Category Archives: Blog Banter
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.
* * * * *
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.
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.
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!
this month’s Blog Banter will gravitate around knowledge, specifically EVE knowledge. Some examples of topics to cover: Is EVE too complex for one person to know everything? Is it, in fact, too complex for one person to know everything about one topic? How do you maintain any knowledge or skills related to EVE over time with breaks and expansions? Does CCP do a sufficient job documenting the features of the game, and if not, what could they do better? How does one determine where the gaps in their knowledge even are?
I love watches with exposed gears. I just think it adds something to it, the precision, the display, the raw beauty of it. I also love steampunk for it’s more brute-force display of many of the same factors. You get to see everything, you might not KNOW how things work, but you can see them. The workings are on display you can see them even if you don’t understand them. EvE is, quite frankly, a lot like a mammoth steampunk engine. It certainly works, but one is sometimes forced to wonder how much of it is needed and what the rest of it actually does.
I am sure one person who was focused on and studying the game, who had no job other than EvE and a very good understanding of it could certainly cover everything they wanted to know about it. Everyone else has to go with “close enough for government work.” That is, we figure out what we want to do, how we want to do it, and go for it. We all pick our spheres of ability and work with them as well as possible.
The resources that exist to help players learn their desired skills and pick up the knowledge they need to excel are far advanced over what players had when I started in 2007. The EvE-Uni wiki alone has more information than I had access to. The ISK book, tons of Youtube videos, countless blogs. There’s information out there, albeit somewhat hard to reach. There’s also whole organizations dedicated to teaching people about this game. The aforementioned EvE-Uni is the most famous, but there’s others.
In general people don’t look for gaps in their knowledge. That is until their face is shoved into said gap while their ass is repeatedly kicked. The only reliable way of finding out you don’t know enough about something is usually to be stung by it, as has been the case for can miners, market opportunists, practically every investor ever, the triple-tankers, and people fitting against their bonuses in PvP.
The lessons you learn in EvE can be shattering. Losing hard earned ships, especially early on, can be extremely demoralizing. The resources can help you prevent a repeat, if you avail yourself of them, but you have to recover yourself. I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again, EvE isn’t nice.
Fly Dangerous, Learn your Lesson.
So yeah, it’s been a minute. A lot of things have gone on, both good and bad, in real life. The short short version is I’ve unsubscribed for a short list of reasons, but believe me I’ll be watching EvE and rejoining the Greatest Gaming Community at some point in the future.
On to the Banter
There is no finer spectacle in the universe of EVE Online than the explosive dance of weapon-laden spaceships in combat. The yearly Alliance Tournament is the jewel in EVE Online’s eSports crown and the upcoming New Eden Open should deliver the same gladiatorial entertainment showcase.
Given the scope of the sandbox, what part should eSports play in EVE Online and what other formats could provide internet spaceship entertainment for spectators and participants alike?
eSports is one of those fads that looks to be hanging around. Frankly I think it’s GREAT for gaming as a whole. EvE Online is not gaming as a whole. EvE Online is such a Balkanized, Byzantine mess of politics and backstabbing that, frankly, I think EvE-like should replace both of those adjectives. This doesn’t mix well with eSports. The greatest alliance tournament matches for most of the community to watch were things like Star Fraction disassembling BOB, the last match at AT IX, the games where the meta game didn’t so much peek through as much as it came SCREAMING TO THE FOREFRONT with the presumptive level playing field crying limply from the meta games’ bloody jaws.
The problem is if you want to attract sponsors they want to know things are above board. They want a presumption of fairness and equality. They don’t want EvE, they want EvE-light. They want a clean, pure version of a game that revels in muck and wallows in filth. EvE isn’t about what happens in space ships. It’s about what happens in smokey (chat) rooms, it’s about what happens between the lines, in E-mails and EvE mails, in skype calls and phone calls, on TS and Vent, battles are won and lost in-game. Wars are won offline. In tournaments individual matches CAN be won in-game, but most were decided long before the ships start moving.
Now I’m not saying EvE doesn’t need some sort of Arena, but I am saying that creating one and holding it up as “THIS is EVE ONLINE!” is disingenuous at best, and even misses the point of the game; although it certainly would be interesting to see a rise of currently unaffiliated “factions” all about battling it out in a “meta-enabled” gladiatorial arena, this approach seems to not be held in favor by CCP, likely as they feel it would not be nearly as appealing to sponsors. Because surely there’s never been a major arena based organization with blatantly unfair matches, frequently scripted events and stoylines so complex the writers from Dallas started taking notes.
Wait, what’s that? It’s the Undertaker’s music!
Wouldn’t it be great to have arena matches that represented EvE? Not some idealized version of the same system. Actual EvE. Backstabbing, plotting, treachery and sudden swift strikes completely upsetting the carefully prepared odds books? I’d love it.
P.S. I will be posting more here, about gaming in general, both table top and online.
P.P.S. Orakkus and James 315 better be getting spots on the blog pack soon. Sadly it looks like there will soon be quite a few openings.
P.P.P.S. congrats to Roc for getting EvE and gaming in general some great press. I may not like his blog too much and have even attacked him a time or two, but credit where it is due, he has made EvE look better this week.
“With the Inferno expansion upon us, new seeds have been planted in the ongoing evolution of EVE Online. With every expansion comes new trials and challenges, game-changing mechanics and fresh ideas. After nine years and seventeen expansions, EVE has grown far more than most other MMOGs can hope for. Which expansions have brought the highs and lows, which have been the best and the worst for EVE Online?”
As I recently mentioned, CCP has had a real mixed bag of expansions and patches. I think I have two favorites. Apocrypha and Crucible. I’m betting I’m not the only one homing in on those two either.
Apocrypha was probably the most ambitious expansion EvE had. 4 new ships, and entire new class of space, entirely new mechanics. DOZENS of new ship configurations to balance (or not) the skill queue, attribute respecs, and the new fitting screen. All in all a HUGE expansion; albeit spread out over a couple patches. This expansion changed the way I played EvE. I tried wormholes, got my first capital ship kill, messed around with T3 ships, oh and NEVER AGAIN HAD TO WAKE UP AT THREE A.M. TO CHANGE A SKILL. EVAR.
The new fitting window, the skill queue and wormholes themselves would have been fascinating. The Tech 3 ships, the Attribute respecs, and the epic mission arcs drove it further up. Apocrypha was a masterpiece for CCP an ambitious project that paid off richly. Apocrypha took EvE from being a game one endured as much as played, and made it one it was possible to truly enjoy.
I like to call Crucible “The Expansion that Saved EvE” and it’s no exaggeration to call it that after the Summer of Rage. CCP had driven the player base to the edge of revolt, and then drove it over. The list of changes made on Crucible is staggering. Just from the standpoint of graphics there’s the V3 graphics, nebulae, new captains quarters, and engine trails. New Battlecruisers, new neocom, new rookie ship designs, assault frigate rebalancing, watch list changes, and easier overheating. The list goes on and on and on, all of it stuff practically designed to bring back and calm the raging capsuleers.
Crucible was an example of low-hanging fruit being reaped by CCP. Years of backlog of iteration and quality of life fixes cleared out in one expansion. Crucible took the door to enjoyment opened up by Apocrypha and slammed it wide open. A more responsive, beautiful game, fewer session timers, more ships and improvements made to older ones that needed it. This expansion made EvE a joy to play.
First: Theme music
2nd: Yes it’s a CSM post. Blog Banter > my silly promises.
Right now the CSM consists of literally the biggest “Killers, Thieves and Lawyers” with backers enough to walk across their backs to Iceland.
The biggest issue they run into is that they are billed as something of a governing body. They don’t set policy, They aren’t the arbiters of justice. The Council of Stellar Management manages nothing. This does make managing expectations a little difficult. Up until about mid summer of 2011 this CSM was not exactly high on peoples rankings. Especially when the Summer of Rage broke and they appeared powerless. During the Summer of Rage the people on the CSM managed to channel all the anger of the player base and use it as leverage, the Devs were much more inclined to listen to the CSM, as much out of CCP desperation as anything. Suddenly the reviled CSM became beloved. Now they are expected to cure cancer. Let’s reel this in now.
CSM 7 should be the last CSM. Let’s replace it with the Stellar Advisory Council. The Stellar Advisory Council will have 6 different focuses. Nullsec Representative, Wormhole Rep, Low-Sec Rep, Highsec Rep, Industrial Rep, and 3rd party development/media rep.
Each focus would have two people. Ideally they would come from different groups. Individuals planning on voting would declare two “focus” groups DURING THE NOMINATION PROCESS. Once you have declared a focus you will be voting in that election. For example I’d declare Low-Sec and 3rd Party / media. In addition to, while declaring for the election, characters must (of course) pick a focus to run for. CCP will vet this. If Mittens wants to run as a Highsec or Wormhole Rep CCP can take a look at his game activity, position and roles and say, “nuh uh, change it or lose eligibility” assuming they don’t just strip your eligibility for the election to punish shenanigans.
The Fanfest trip is still granted to the top X vote getters, with additional seats given to specific members CCP needs to speak. Onus on CCP here. In addition, consultations will be less high profile. The devs should pull in everyone over the course of the year, but a lot of the consultations can be handled with trips to the nearest offices, to meet with relevant people. There’s no point having the Wormhole and Highsec guy spinning their chairs in the back of the room or playing on their phones while the Nullsec and Industrial guys come up with a plan for player built stations to get more industrial clout.
There will still be 1 big annual summit with the big 6 (top vote-getter for each category) with topics broken up by “CSM at-large” categories, things that will change the entire game, and topics for smaller “working groups” so that once the “big picture” stuff is out of the way the working groups can focus on the issues of their constituents with the dev teams working in their arenas.
Finally… I DEMAND that the SAC be given fancy hats to wear at all their public appearances.
Blog Banter 33: The Capsuleer ExperienceLike mana from Valhalla (yes I know I’m mixing my religious metaphors), the latest Dev Blog by CCP Legion asks questions which make for perfect Blog Bantering. To quote him “…we want to make the first days, weeks and months in EVE enjoyable and not just something ‘you have to plough through in order to get to the good stuff’” and the newly formed Player Experience team will focus on “…where and why people lose interest in EVE…”.
“We invite you to pour your heart (or guts) out and tell us what you think is good or bad with the current new player experience and what you think could be done about the problems.”
2x Standard Missile Launcher I
Warp Scrambler I
Small Shield Booster I
Power Diagnostic System I
Every race gets something similar active tanked, nothing blingy, just straight up get in there and pew pew.
You are directed to go help secure a wreck that has components to repair your stargate home. This mission takes place in a new feature. The Arena. On entering the arena the player is added to one of two fleets. I should point out all new players in EvE will be sent to the same system to ensure that the arena isn’t dead, and there should be advisors in system as well to help out. Upon joining this fleet you have kill rights on all people on the other side. Go crazy folks, after a certain amount of time in the area, or upon losing your ship, or scoring a certain number of kills your mission completes letting you get back to business. The goal isn’t to make stone cold killers, it’s to keep people from panicking when they see red on their overview.
Each mission spawns a new ship from here on out.
The next mission is a bit more directed. You are sent to a site where another player is guarding a can. You steal from the can and place it into your own container for pickup. Hijinks ensue.
The next mission? Go out, blow up some rats and guard a can until it gets picked up. You will NEVER GUESS what happens next.
Both of these complete for both players when a player ship gets wrecked in the site.
The purpose of these two missions is to familiarize players with can mechanics and point out just how unsecure they are.
The penultimate mission will be a tutorial in how to escape being podded. It will talk about session change timers, aggression timers, and all the fun factors that keep you from jumping or docking. You will be sent in to another ambush. When you land, scram frigs, cruisers, BS or two. The frigates will be on top of you, the others closing fast. CONCORD will communicate that they are unable to respond in time, and to prepare for pod ejection by selection a celestial and warping away (spamming the button if necessary) as soon as the ship is destroyed. Once the player has escaped they are directed to land on the station, at this point they get a shuttle, a certificate, a decent isk reward for the whole chain and a bookmark to a working stargate back to the “normal” tutorial system.
Obviously it is a rough idea, it will need some refinement, but I don’t get paid for this. CCP’s Player Experience team does. Make it happen gents!