A simple question – what makes you come back to your PC, console, tablet or smart-phone, pick it up and play a particular game?
Well, a little of my gaming past, present and (thoughts on my) future.
Firstly, what devices do I use for gaming? Unlike some of my in game associates, I don’t have 84 inch LCD widescreen TV’s or server racks running lots and lots of clients at the same time.
For PC gaming I use an Alienware M17x 17 inch laptop:
On this very beautiful and (well it was 2 years ago when I got it) powerful piece of sleek computer goodness, I play Eve and World of Tanks (occasionally)
For Dust, I obviously use a Sony Playstation 3 (although I’d quite like to try Battlefield 4 on a brand new Playstation 4 if anybody was feeling particularly generous!).
As for other devices, I have an iPad 4 32GB and a Samsung Galaxy 3 smart phone. On the iPad and Samsung Galaxy I play various things ranging from The Sims Freeplay through to Hungry Shark, Angry Birds, Candy Crush Saga and Flappy Bird.
Before I get to my main point (which is actually about Dust 514 by the way), I’m going to ramble a bit off piste (sort of), and talk about other games I play on the iPad, Samsung Galaxy and PC.
Of the games I play, I’ve ended up paying something for almost all of them (with the exception of Hungry Shark and Flappy Bird). For The Sims, I’ve purchased some Life Points and Social Points so my kids could buy decorations for the houses they were designing. For Angry Birds I purchased the game so the annoying adverts would go away. For Candy Crush Saga I have to admit I purchased 5 extra moves once on a really annoying level I’d been stuck on for days. For WoT I’ve purchased gold a few times to personalise my tanks and get the 100% crew training on new tanks.
What I’m trying to say here is not that I have lots of money and spend it on games – in fact neither is at all true. What I’m trying to say is that I’m probably a fairly typical 30-something gamer who has some spare money (or doesn’t, and spends it anyway hoping he won’t get into too much trouble) and is prepared to spend it on accelerating my progress in a game or on premium items. This is how the free-to-play games work, whether you agree with them or not.
If you stand back and look at the various free-to-play games, it’s actually a pretty fine balance. You have to make the game playable without needing to buy things with real money, but you also need to make sure that spending real money won’t be game-breaking.
Take two games at opposite ends of the spectrum as an example – The Sims Freeplay and World of Tanks. To be honest, with both of them I could quite happily spend no money at all. I don’t play them all the time, I can earn the in-game currency easily enough… but not so easily that I don’t consider spending real money. Yet… I spent some money to make my tanks look “cooler” and to make my driver able to train so he can make the tank turn quicker. I spent some money so I could build the high school more quickly and so my daughter could put the Japanese set into her house.
Eve is a very different beast – over the course of my playing history I’ve used real money to purchase PLEX (from an authorised seller of course – I use Eve Time Codes). I’ve used the plex to convert to ISK so I could accelerate a project I was working on personally, but really I could have just waited and still played and enjoyed the game how I wanted without getting PLEX and then spending the ISK to expand into a different area.
So that just leaves Dust 514.
Where do I start. Oh wait, I’ve actually almost finished really.
I started playing Dust 514 while it was still in Beta. Pretty much the first thing I did was spend some real money to buy some AUR and get boosters so I could speed up my experience and ISK gains. Up until now I’ve always made sure that I had enough AUR to buy 30 day Active and Passive boosters. I play Dust most, if not every, weekday, and sometimes on the weekends too. In fact, I play Dust 514 more than any other game with the exception of Eve.
I’m now at a critical stage though. In Eve it’s easy enough to find ways to make ISK so that you can keep going and compete in some way, whether it’s the pure “leet” PvP’ers who fly the Riftah because it’s the only pure way to shoot people in honourable 1v1 fights in lo-sec, or the hi-sec miner or mission runner, all the way up to the person who uses a Titan or Super Carrier to rat “just because it’s quicker”.
In the other games such as Eve, The Sims Freeplay, World of Tanks and Candy Crush Saga, there is really no need to spend real money if you don’t want to. You choose to spend the money because you want to accelerate some part of the gameplay. In Dust, however, how do you actually make ISK effectively?
I play Dust with a friend who I know from Eve. We have great fun, but regularly we come across games where, because of CCP’s match-making system affectionately known as “Scotty”, we have three choices: we sit back and snipe; we use cheap (or BPO) suits; we run in with full proto gear. The last option is the only real way to compete in that particular front-line environment, but also results in the probable loss of 4 or 5 suits each probably costing over 150k ISK. The first option is usually good for our KDR, but with some maps it’s actually not much fun at all sniping due to the layout and position of the capture points. The second option is inevitably terrible for our KDR but if you’re careful you can sometimes get a few kills. The third option is the only way to compete.
Herein lies the problem. CCP, unlike many (most) MMO games, have made their game play mechanics such that if it gets blown up then, well, it’s gone. In WoT I can go into a battle and get one shot killed really early on in the game. When the game ends my tank is back and the only thing I’ve lost is… well actually unless I was using Gold Ammo or consumables, I should still have slightly more silver than I started the game with.
Dust is different, if I take the first option and sit back and snipe on a rubbish map for snipers, I might get 120k ISK for example (yeah, I usually get more on good maps, but we’ll get to that in a minute). That’s actually covers less than one proto suit. If I take the second option, I might little or no ISK, but the payout at the end probably won’t be that different, and I actually don’t enjoy getting killed 10+ times in a game.
This is the real killer – if I take the third option and do well, I mean really well, I might get around 250k to 350k ISK. However, say I lost 4 suits, I’d have lost around 300k ISK worth of suits, and my payout is… actually it’s terrible (or crap as we British often say). The worst outcome is that I lose those suits and don’t do very well, in which case I’m really in trouble.
This, for me (and my squad mate), is the real problem. To make serious ISK we need our corp to be involved in Planetary Conquest, and to actually share the rewards with us minions. To get into PC can be a bit of an “old boys network”. Because the matchmaking system isn’t based on what suit and equipment we’re going to use, but on our profile, we get matched against people who mostly seem to use prototype gear.
OK – we can use AUR to play, but this is where Dust has varied from the paths the other games have taken. With WoT I can play as a Tier IV medium tank and am almost always against very similar tier tanks – I don’t find myself in a game against all Tier 8+ tanks. With Dust, I don’t have a “use Advanced or lower” match-making system to be part of.
Also, the rewards don’t scale. When I’m running proto gear and win, why do I only get 300k, I should be getting 500k or even 750k. Eve was founded on the principle of risk = ISK. If I risk a bling fit Strategic Cruiser, I might be able to take on more than I should and win gloriously, but I also might lose big too, and I have to be prepared for that. With Dust 514, if I risk my proto suit against the enemy, I still risk losing some of the suits, but at the end my reward is…. erm…
So my decision now is what do I do with Dust.
I like Dust 514.
I enjoy playing Dust 514.
I’ve spent money on Dust 514.
I have just spent some money to get some AUR to plug in a 30 day passive booster, and I played some quite good games today (which didn’t cover my losses). I do not have an active booster and will not be buying one right now. I also won’t be using AUR to buy myself some suits, guns and equipment, as the cost of a proto suit is not something I’d like to invest in, knowing that people tend to focus on AUR suits more than normal suits, given the choice.
I know, I’ll just go to the store and convert AUR into ISK in the store, like you can with WoT… oh… where is the menu…
I could transfer some of my Eve Industry riches to my Dust character… but I can’t. The only option is to actually go to an in-game currency exchange service (as found on the forums), where the rate can be as much as 10:1, so 1 billion ISK would get me 100 million ISK in Dust. Sounds like a lot? Try using well fit vehicles like a tank or Assault Dropship and try again.
CCP – I play Eve and Dust. You get money from me for both. Yet in Dust I feel the mechanics for ISK generation are not very well balanced.
In Eve, the idea of ship skinning is great – I will be spending some of my stashed up AUR to make some of my ships look different, and I also understand why they’re doing things how they are.
This is probably the first time CCP have got micro-transactions right, and I completely congratulate them for it. However, then you get another UI dev blog. Don’t get me wrong, it’s all good and definitely freshens up the interface as it rightly needs to be, and yet today I put in 20 reverse engineering jobs, 90 invention jobs and 40 new manufacturing jobs which probably involved me clicking my left mouse button several hundred times and moving the mouse about 2km in distance. My colleague in Eve is facilitating some blueprint activities and has just had to vote on a fair number of blueprint locks / unlocks. Sadly this is a family friendly blog and I therefore cannot print what he would have been saying about the unfortunate interface while doing it.
Hmmm on balance this probably should have somehow been two blog posts, but it isn’t.
- Dust 514 matchmaking system is terrible
- Dust 514 ISK rewards for public matches is terrible
- Eve industry interface is terrible
- Mining Rokh’s are going to return with Rubicon 1.3!
So today I logged on into the lo-sec system I have some POS based in and, as I always do, hit dscan while I’m warping back to the POS. I always do this to see if there’s a wreck or new POS or… wait… a Small Mobile Siphon has appeared on dscan.
I immediately re-warp and check my POS where I’m extracting some fairly lo-grade materials from to see if I’m the target, and then I check the POS of one of my neighbours who is extracting a higher grade material. Sure enough, there’s the mobile siphon unit.
I check the contents of the unit and, a very quick calculation later, shows that it’s been up for 6 hours. After looking at another of the neighbours’ POS, I find another unit quietly stealing materials just like the one at the first POS.
Now the interesting situation here is that my neighbours are, essentially, pirates. As Simon Baker said in an episode of “The Mentalist” that broadcast a couple of days ago in the UK “I don’t judge”. However, in this case I tend to buy the output from the moons from them, and so the pirate stealing from the pirates was essentially reducing the amount of product available for me to use, and therefore I did the only decent thing and contacted the pirates so they were aware and could arrange for removal of the offending anchored objects, de-pirating of the moon goo, and repeated podding of the individual when they returned to collect the materials.
This made me consider again the practicality and usefulness of these units, and to be honest I had to wonder if CCP were slightly grasping at straws when they came up with these modules – trying to find a way to be able to take something from the industrialists in lieu of coming up with a better idea. I can see the idea behind it… if the POS isn’t visited regularly then it can be plundered. Very good, however they still haven’t addressed more important issues such as abandoned POS not being able to be hacked after a period of time or even degrading, or the afk cloaking ship being undetectable. Yeah yeah, I’ve heard the arguments, it’s not a problem it’s a feature, however I thought that CCP wanted people at keyboards, yet you can sit in a system afk and disrupt operations, but not be found. Sure, prepare a fleet to guard the mining operation. Then somebody like Pandemic Legion drop 25 Redeemers on top of you. You had how many people defending… 2? 5? Ok. Your next defense is…..?
Sorry, personal bug bear that they haven’t used the second destroyer models yet to make a T2 hunter ship that can use special probes to find and disrupt cloaked ships (sort of anti-cloak depth charges). Imagine the Star Trek method where the cloak emits some sort of Tetrion-Alpha Particle Asymmetrical Signature (or TAPAs for short). The T2 destroyers could fire probes that let them narrow down where the TAPAs are, and then the T2 Hunter could warp to the location and use Co-triaxion Optical Oscillating Krypton charges (or COOK charges) which they would fire. By using these charges to COOK the TAPAs, they could decloak the cloaky afk person who is probably at work or at school and anywhere except at their keyboard, and then kill and pod them.
Anyway, massive diversion there, but anyway… TLDR is that I saw one of those siphon units today for the first time.
Currently I’ve just been ploughing ahead through my Tech I I BPC stores, as well as busily inventing from my Tech I BPC catalogue and improving the ME and PE of my BPO collection. However, once again this has proved to be a bit dangerous, as I ended up with less than 1 million ISK in my trading wallet with fuel blocks to make and moon goo to buy to keep reactions going. Oops.
To resolve this, I’m now starting to plan out some workflows for my industrial characters so I can hopefully avoid things like this in the future. I currently have available to use 70 science slots which can be used for inventing, copying and improving the ME and PE of my BPO stock. 10 of those slots can be used for Reverse Engineering too if desired. For manufacturing, I also have 70 slots for producing T1 ships and modules or T2 modules. Of those 70 slots, 20 can be used for making capitals (including 10 slots that could be used to make Super Carriers or Titans… I wish… any offers?!?!?!), 30 can be used for making T2 ships, and 10 slots can be used for making T3 hulls and subsystems. The only area currently missing is Outpost Construction, although it is in one of the toon’s skill plan on Evemon.
So… in theory that allows for quite a complicated production workflow if I wanted… and yep – I do want it. I am, therefore, scrawling out ideas on a sheet of paper as well as using Excel spreadsheeets for calculating margins and transport costs. I’m planning on doing a bit of everything, and as I have around 10,000 BPC’s to invent from at the moment (who knew that sitting there copying stuff would end up with that much in the filing cabinet?), I’m going to invest all of my resources into invention for now until stocks get low on specific things, and even then I’ll only divert a handful of slots to copying things.
As for website stuff, I’ve now successfully implemented PHP scripts to capture the Eve Market Data Relay information and store some of it in a MySQL database. On the same server I’ve also installed the Eve Static Database. I’ve also managed to get Yapeal installed and a PHP script written to use that to nicely talk to CCP’s Eve API and allow me to automatically approve and ban registered users based on whether they are in the corp on whose website they have registered – this is designed to cut down the work required by a website admin for an Eve corp’s website.
I’ve also written this specifically for easy use by an alliance, as you can register multiple corporations for a website, and then it will auto-approve or ban users based on all of the registered corporations. It also means that if a corp is booted, then all that an alliance leader would need to do is disapprove that corp on the website and then all users would be auto-booted.
My next steps will be to add some specific Eve functionality to the website framework as well as trying to work out how to make a nice front-end interface for administering corporations and individual users access rights etc. To do the first part I’m hoping to implement the Google Visualization system so that the graphs can “look pretty”. As for the second part, it will involve me creating a “proper” Joomla module I think, so a bit more reading for me to do there.
As to projects… well Project Polygon is going to utilise my website framework, but that’s as much as I’m going to say about that for now. I’m hoping that a friend may be able to convince his new alliance to be guinea pigs, but if not then I have another idea, although that will be a more challenging sell and probably a step beyond where I want to be at this stage of testing.
As for Project Purple. That is slowly taking shape, and I’ve worked out some basics but, because of my laziness in not setting up my production workflows as detailed above, the billion ISK that I think I want to throw at the project isn’t available for me to play with right now, although that should change in the next week or two assuming I can stop hitting the “buy” button in Jita!
CCP have produced a very interesting Dev Blog, which I would encourage everybody to read. The crux of this is a very interesting diagram:
What is very nice is that one of the systems on the production diagram is one of the systems we have been producing in
The concern is that this just points the gankers to where the larger indy corps are operating. There are another couple of graphs in the dev blog that give more detail, but essentially production ran at 3 trillion ISK per day and destruction at only 1.3 trillion ISK per day – those numbers speak for themselves.
Anyway – kudos to CCP for releasing some very nice information to look at – more of the same please!
As to API information, one of my projects is running along nicely. So far I have a test website connecting to a database resource I have set up. This resource pulls information from the Eve Market Data Relay, as well as having the Eve Static Database uploaded for direct querying. In addition I have also written my first bit of PHP that interfaces with the Joomla! Content Management System and uses the Yapeal system for querying the Eve API in a nice way. This has allowed my (almost certainly very badly written) PHP code to automatically approve or block users to the website based on whether they are in that corporation or not. I’m going to look at amending it further to allow setting up an Alliance website.
For now, though, I’m going to start adding functionality to the website to use the information that Yapeal is caching for the users and corporation.
After careful consideration and a very successful trial, I’ve changed my operations around a bit to drop regular mining. I do still mine sometimes while doing something long and drawn out, like moving a freighter around for example, but generally I’ve now come to rely upon courier contracts to move things around.
This has the nice side effect of leaving me with 70 invent/copy/research slots, and 70 manufacturing slots. I could expand that by another 10 if I really wanted to, but for now I’m trying to juggle things to keep everybody busy almost all of the time.
I also realised that I had almost 10,000 BPC’s to invent from, and so decided that copying anything apart from ships for now would be shelved. It also means that I will take this opportunity to slowly expand my BPO catalogue and use some of the copying slots for material and time research instead, which is something I’ve been wanting to do for a couple of weeks now.
Project Purple and Project Hexagon are progressing at their own pace. When asked what they were by a fellow blogger, I declined to give specific details, save for that one project is for me, and the other for the Eve community generally.
In other news, I’ll be visiting some parts of America during the first part of April, and taking the time to meet up with some Eve players who I’ve known for a long time. If there are any Eve meet-ups planned in The States during the first half of April, please let me know. Let’s face it, it’s pretty unlikely I’ll be where the meet-up is at the right time, and most likely will be many hundreds of miles away, but if you don’t ask…
Please, everybody who reads this blog and everybody else you know – get them to complete the CCP survey about industry.
In the UK, we are known for having a rather invasive and tenacious newspaper industry. Recently, our government has been trying to introduce laws to regulate the industry in the wake of a phone hacking scandal which resulted in one Sunday newspaper actually closing its doors. The industry’s own regulator is perceived to have failed, and their own suggestion of a new regulator, not enshrined in law, has been rejected by the government, with the government’s proposal having been rejected by the press themselves.
So why am I sharing this completely non-Eve related information with you? Well, despite all of the above, the Prime Minister yesterday described the UK’s press as the “linchpin of democracy”.
How does that work then? Do the Government like the newspapers or dislike them? Do they trust them? Do they value them?
I’ll be honest that I, personally, strongly dislike the way some of the more “basic” newspapers sensationalise things to instil sometimes more extreme views in a relatively small section of society about a particular subject, decision or event. I also find it quite amusing when a particular newspaper or TV news programme is obviously politically partisan, and then denies that it is when challenged with the plain facts.
Again, how does this relate to Eve?
Well, this is stretching the analogy a little far (even for me, somebody who lives for analogies!), but imagine that the government represents CCP, everyday people in the UK represent “normal” players in Eve, and the press represent industrial players in Eve. I did warn you that this analogy was stretching things, but try to stick with me for a moment
So the industrialists haven’t regulated themselves very well: bots to mine ice/ore and to farm rats are known to be an issue; large alliances control the high end moon mining and have formed cartels to manipulate the market; the soft squishy Carebears have been too difficult to find and kill until more recently.
How have the industrialists (the press) reacted? Some players have been incensed and have been very vocal, stirring up small parts of the player community. Some players have tried to present reasoned opinion and have even tried to suggest their own solutions to the issues raised.
However, CCP don’t seem to like this and have started to impose their own regulation: gravitational sites no longer need to be scanned; interceptors can almost insta-warp even through bubbles almost before they’ve finished jumping through the gate; new deployable modules are added to make it easier to disrupt the Carebears work.
Yet despite this, the recent CSM minutes acknowledge that most of the value in the game is due to manufacturing. Just like the UK’s Prime Minister, CCP have effectively given the nod to say that they do know that Eve needs industry.
Wow – I’m really rambling on with this post. Time to end it with a little thought:
PvP players – how many accounts do you have? 2, maybe 3? One main PvP account with possibly a booster alt? Industry players – how many accounts do they have? Well, many multi-box miners will run between 6 and 10 accounts, all mining at the same time. Pure manufacturing players might have between 4 and 6 accounts. Even professional mission runners will be running at least 2 if not 3 accounts to ensure that they are breezing through sites quickly, and cleaning up their mess behind them.
So, on average, each industry character will have 2 to 5 times as many active subscriptions as a PvP player. That’s quite a lot of money in subscriptions to be ignoring or, even worse, changing the game to make their gameplay less enjoyable.
I encourage you once again to complete the survey linked at the top of the post. If CCP are given enough feedback from enough players, just maybe something might happen.
Margin trading is brilliant – if well planned you can run a large scale operation without having to have all of your ISK tied up in escrow; if you correctly balance consumer demand and supplier availability you can use your sell orders to fund your buy orders.
Unfortunately, margin trading can also be a pain if you get things not quite right. It was on this basis that I logged in a couple of days ago to find many things in my deliveries hanger, and just over 7 million ISK left in my trading wallet. After checking my stock and work in progress, it was a fairly easy decision to stop buying stuff and wait for completion and sale of some of the things I’m building first.
Anyway, in line with official CCP policy, I’m working on two projects, called Project Purple and Project Polygon. I didn’t want people to get confused by me using the same names CCP, so I spent a long time with a focus group brainstorming names, and after many hours and several bags of coffee, these were the names that scored highest in our target market polls.
Details of Project Purple should hopefully be released within the next month, and I’m hopeful that I’ll be able to make an announcement about Project Polygon in the near future.
As to other news, I’m very pleased with my experiments using public courier contracts as well as Red Frog Freight, and have decided to continue to use this way of moving things around for almost everything I do between market hubs and my production facilities. If you haven’t tried this way of moving bulk items around, I recommend you give it a go.
So I’ve invested a reasonable number of skill points into combat type things with some of my characters. One, for example, has completed the entire drone skill tree and can fly all tech 2 logistics ships with relevant skills all to level V (but has virtually no gunnery or missile skills). Another character has completed the leadership skill tree and can fly all racial Battlecruisers (level V) and Command Ships (level V) with a very good level of proficiency in small and medium weapons. A third is good with bombers and interceptors, and can fly a Tengu very nicely.
What all of these toons (and various others) do, though, is research, copy, invent, reverse engineer, manufacture and sell all kinds of things, mostly not leaving the confines of a station unless to mine or do some PI or moon related activities. A waste? Maybe.
What I’m looking for is the opportunity to try out that black art called PvP. I’m not talking about throwing billions of ISK at this as a project and flying Tengus or pimped out Damnations, but flying a frigate or cruiser, maybe an interceptor or assault frigate. That would be something good to start with. Now I could just grab 100 Rifters and go out and see what happens, but I think all I’d probably do is just lose 100 Rifters and learn precious little. Now, flying with somebody else or a small group – that would be better.
No – I can’t drop a toon and put them into RvB. No – I’m not going to roll another toon and put them into RvB, as they’d be crap and I want to learn how to use the characters I already have, and understand what gaps to fill in their skill queues. No – I don’t mind if my sec status drops a bit, as long as I can fly in empire space still, I don’t mind – and I plan to counter with ratting and missioning to repair my status.
I was thinking on maybe one or two roams of about an hour or two a week. Again, perhaps I’m very wide of the mark here, but then you’re no doubt leet and I’m just a n00b carebear
So – suggestions? Offers? Pointing and laughing?
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?
Wow – for me that graph just doesn’t look very good right now. Yes, at least it’s not really falling, but within those figures will be older players leaving and being replaced by new players, as well as a churn of new players starting and not being captured into the Eve universe.
Where is this going to go? When I talked about this graph with a friend, he said that if you’re not growing then you’re dying. I didn’t really have the heart to show him the graphs for Dust 514, but that’s another story.
Do I think that numbers will steadily start to drop? So much depends on what happens next with Eve. The game itself is unique in so many ways: the way the sandbox works; the player driven economy; the PvP rich environment; the metagame. All of these together make Eve what it is now – incredibly difficult to learn unless you get into the social aspect of Eve and join a player run corporation.
The direction CCP take Eve over the next year or two will be absolutely critical to the survival of the game. Sounding a bit dramatic there? Well maybe yes but probably no. When looking through the minutes of the late August 2013 summit between the CSM and CCP (which were only published on 2 January 2014… after the Winter Expansion that the majority of the minutes were dedicated to!), it’s both clear that manufacturing is a critical (and the single largest) part of the Eve economy, yet discussion about Industry matters are virtually non-existent within the minutes. I will instantly concede that the Winter Expansion was not an industry expansion, and so the lack of column inches dedicated to it can be explained.
Within the minutes, something complex is mentioned, but it didn’t make it into the Winter Expansion – details of that will hopefully be revealed soon. Also, a “Project 2″ and “Project 3″ were mentioned but that’s as far as they got, all other details were completely expunged by the NDA filter. Things like this, when revealed, need to build upon the firm base that is the industry side of the game. Rather than scraps falling from the PvP and PvE tables, industry needs something solid to grab on to, and I don’t mean a few new PvP and PvE modules to get blueprints for and build – that does not count.
The problem with Eve is, however, quickly apparent when you go to the forums and see the various threads, comments and “feedback”. If CCP do ever release an industry expansion, they cannot afford to sell it as such, as the vocal minority who are the PvP element will wave their arms around and cry out in despair, loudly proclaiming the death of Eve as becoming Farmville in space and accusing CCP of ignoring their main customers. To release an industry expansion, CCP will, therefore, need to actually break it up into 3 or 4 parts and release it as a subset of new “awesome” PvP and PvE features.
Who will build and maintain the new player owned stargates when they are released? You’ll look to the n00b hi-sec carebears to provide you with the stuff in Jita so that bloke who has all the spreadsheets in the Alliance can make it for you.
But I digress – or do I? What I’m trying to get across here is that Eve tends to have players who are much more specialised in a trade, as unlike many other games you can actually just play the game as a specialist. With games like Rift for example, yes you can build things and sell them, but essentially you have to engage in large amounts of PvE (and never have to engage in PvP if you don’t want to) in order to achieve your goal. In Eve, I can just roll a character, buy skill books and never have to leave a station if I don’t want to. I won’t have to undertake a single mission, blow up even one red + on my overview, and definitely not have to risk having my ship suicide ganked when I undock from even the safest of stations.
This is where CCP have their greatest advantage, and their biggest problem. They’re trying to market a game like Rift, a PvE game where you can PvP or craft. They’re not marketing a game like World of Tanks where you only engage in PvP in very (literally) quick fire situations. They’re not even trying to market a game like Minecraft where you can build things. They’re trying to market a game where the player makes their own experience from the things available to them, and CCP need to work on all of those things at the same time to keep growing.
If you’ve played Eve for a while, you’ll remember the “Barbies in Space” edition with the Jita riots and the resultant destruction of the Jita monument. In that expansion CCP tried to expand their game into yet another area, but not only did they release something that was largely incomplete, it was also something that literally melted some computer graphics cards. CCP quickly backtracked and refocused on flying spaceships in space and managed to largely save the situation.
Were CCP wrong to try and do what they did? In my opinion… no! Actually, if they’d released and expansion where not only did you have Captains Quarters (proper racial ones), but quarters you could actually rent with ISK and personalise and furnish with a mixture of ISK and AUR goods, places you could go to meet (Corp offices, which most Corps already rent) as well as bars and meeting areas to hold meetings, broker deals, play games, trade illicit goods like boosters etc. If they’d just waited and released that in one go, not only would the player base have welcomed it with open arms, I am sure it would have brought in new players and also made the experience of some players (professional traders, scammers, manufacturers etc.) significantly better – assuming it didn’t melt your computer and assuming it was something that could be avoided as it currently can.
If CCP had simply have called Walking in Stations “Project 27″ or something similar, and kept it under NDA until it was ready to be released as a complete feature set, well Eve would be a very different place right now. Will CCP dare to walk down this path again (pun intended)? Who knows, but I’d imagine that with Dust 514 not growing its playerbase quickly, and with Valkyrie on the horizon, the answer is sadly probably a “no”.
So what could help push Eve beyond the plateau and onwards and upwards with active players? Lots of things could be changed and altered to help with the new player experience, particularly with helping players to understand how important the social aspect is in continuing to learn, but also to understand more fully the different journeys that can be undertaken within the Eve experience. Finding ways to connect Dust and even Valkyrie into the Eve universe as a whole will help to bring players into Eve itself. Yes, some players will only want the quick PvE or PvP experience in a 30 minute gaming slot before they get bored and move onto another game, but if the link from that game to Eve is good enough, it may start to draw the player into investing time, and more importantly hard cash, into exploring Eve.
The most important single factor in turning the flat line into an upward trend is the playerbase itself. We as players can help by actively encouraging both our friends in other games, and obvious new players in Eve that we meet. Just killed the n00b in their Velator? Why not convo them, explain a bit about what they did right/wrong, shoot them a couple of million ISK and suggest a ship and fit that might help them do better next time.
CCP are gradually providing new and better tools to allow players to produce websites, videos and other things (such as live streaming) which can be used to promote Eve. This needs to happen more with Dust 514 too.
When I look at that graph, I am worried for the future of Eve, but it also makes me hope that “Project 2″, “Project 3″ and the “complex” thing that didn’t make it into the Winter 2013 expansion will be something great which will not just be purely PvP or PvE focused.
Given my current health condition, I’m considering putting a bet down as to which will pass away first, me or Eve. Given that I have a less than 2% chance of lasting another 10 years, what chances would you give Eve? I’m hoping that Eve outlasts me – and I’d like to somehow help make that possible (and I don’t mean jumping off a bridge next week so that I lose my bet!).
Ask yourself the question – what could you do to help build the Eve playerbase? I’m sitting here asking myself that question right now.
Yes, it’s true. At 21:03 on the 2nd day of January in the year of Our Lord 2014, the minutes of the summit between the 8th Council of Stellar Management’s and CCP Games were published. What makes these minutes so remarkable is that they comprise a 76 page behemoth which largely deals with things for the
upcoming Winter Expansion.
So a headline only summary of the sections:
- CCP structure – team structure etc.
- How the CSM and CCP communicate… aka the Skype section
- The anti-RMT and anti-BOT campaign (not to be confused with The Marmite Collective’s anti-B0T campaign in and around Jita)
- Eve Economy part 1. “We then turned to a large collection of graphs”, none of which in the entire 76 pages of minutes were included. Why not?!?!?! Although we do have a link to TenTonHammer.com to qualify what OTEC stands for. Priorities anybody?
- Eve Economy part 2. New player retention – interesting discussion here about grouping, and also details of how the CSM started playing Eve
- The art session – reported entirely in words with the exception of a picture of the CSM staring at two large screens, that we can’t see. Very helpful, especially as it talks about the possibility of Sisters of Eve ships becoming available
- Talking about rebalancing ships and modules, and apparently Jester needs to send CCP a bottle of brandy
- Very short as it clearly had lots of NDA stuff in
- Personal deployables – we now have 3 of the 12 possible modules, and no idea what any of the other 9 might be
- SMA’s don’t drop ships “to prevent server crushing lag” – Goons now aware of this issue
- I’m glad that this session, affectionately dubbed “Project 2″ has no further details. One of CCP’s strengths has been that it actively seeks input from its playerbase on ideas and features, however this is also one of its major problems, as it is often the vocal minority who influence their ideas. CCP – please try to “do your own thing” on this, having fully understood the lessons arising from the Walking in Stations episode
- Multi-character training will hopefully be in the Winter expansion, and the certificate system is being changed
- Hi-sec POCO’s are coming, as well as a personal deployable to disrupt moon harvesting… but don’t worry, there will be a method to detect if this is happening, possibly a POS module. Note – after release there are actually three methods: warping to the POS and looking; learning to use dscan to check from somewhere in system; and using an out of game method such as Eve Reactor and noticing that you have less in your silo than expected
- A new and complex feature, of which we have no details, is possibly going to be released in part or in whole sometime from January 2014 onwards. Also discussions on the new character selector and PvE sites
- Due to be added in 2014 as the session was mostly NDA
- All about the excellent Collector’s Edition – I have one of these and they’re well worth getting, but I’ll do a separate post on that soon(TM)
- Corp logos on ships – maybe, Alliance logos – not likely. An Industry revamp was mentioned for the first, last, and only time… on page 52 of 76.
- Everything you ever needed to read about the CSM’s thoughts on PvE
- As with session 11, Project 3 is also not put on display – smart move again methinks
- All about what could be done with the UI
- Languages – presented in a conversational format
- The launcher and how players use it
- A brief chat with Hilmar and how Eve, Dust and Valkyrie are icebergs
- Valkyrie – the reason you will want to buy a VR headset
I thought I’d do a “search” on the document for words to see how important they appear to be in the eyes of the CSM and CCP:
- The word “Industry” is only mentioned 7 times, with manufacturing mentioned 3 times – yet Dr EyjoG is clear that most of the value in game is manufacturing, with the Gross User Product’s biggest factor being manufacturing, followed by NPC tax and bounties
- PvE makes 41 appearances
- PvP only appears 20 times
- Dust appears 41 times
- Agreed is there 49 times
- Disagreed is only there 3 times
- Success/Succeeded only made it into the document 8 times…
- …but has a 2:1 ratio over fail which is only there 4 times
- Eve is mentioned 129 times
- Finally, Ripard (aka Jester) outdoes all of the above, being the most listed person in the minutes with 154 mentions (ok, CCP is mentioned 261 times, but I decided to leave that out for dramatic impact)
Do you know what I think? I think that CCP should actually employ a professional secretary to do these minutes. One week to transcribe and organise the minutes, followed by three sets of two day engagements over a 2 week period to finalise the amendments (and NDA removed bits). The minutes could then be published within 4 weeks of the summit ending, and actually be relevant and timely, rather than what is largely now an anecdotal account of something that was planning something that has already happened.
I may sound harsh – I’m certainly not wanting to be a CSM member in any form, but this sort of delay is just counter-productive and disappointing. I know that CCP can do better, and I hope that the CSM want to do better, so spend a bit of money and be smart about it – get somebody to do the job who has the time, ability and experience, rather than a group of people who are busy playing the game and living their real (probably incredibly busy) lives too.