I'll make this quick, and I will be including as little drama as I possibly can.
I've decided to unsubscribe my four EVE Online accounts. Over the next few months, I'll be wrapping up training plans and letting each account lapse. Since I'm sure you'd rather get your EVE commentary from someone who's actually playing EVE, that means that I'll also be letting this blog lapse.
You might ask why, and it's a fair question. My reasons apply to me, and I don't intend that they reflect on anyone else. If you're having fun in EVE, that's great and more power to you. But the short answer is that I'm not having fun any more. Most of the things that I enjoyed about the game are dead or dying, and are being replaced by things that I'm not all that interested in. I'm also suffering under a bit of a handicap that's unique to my situation. I've been struggling with it and trying to ignore it for more than a year now, but it's time to face it. More specifically, four factors are coming together, all at the same time. One or two would be manageable, but all four happening at the same time have drained my enthusiasm for the game and would require more work to solve than seems reasonable or fun.
First, since it affects everything else I'm going to mention, the handicap: I live in California. EVE is simply unfriendly to those that live in California. My prime play time starts at 0200 at the earliest, and often, it's more like 0330. Most ops are wrapping up or are long over by this time. Frequently, there are fewer than 18000 people logged into the game when I play, the vast majority in Empire. As a result, I've spent a ton of time playing EVE solo. Problem is (as I'll mention), a lot of solo pursuits are gone from the game.
The four factors:
1) Without getting into specifics, both my corp and my alliance are going through a rough patch. A lot of the people that were active in my time zone have either left the corp or are not active in EVE for personal reasons. LAWN is one of the top 50 alliances in terms of size in the game, with almost 850 toons... but it's common for there to only be four or five people on Teamspeak by the time I get on-line.
2) With the sanctum/haven nerf, there's a lot less ISK moving around the EVE economy. This affects me indirectly because my main income stream for more than a year has been production of T1 and T2 mods, rigs, bubbles, and the like. And right now, it looks like my income from this source is going to be cut in half due to the much-reduced amount of ISK that's chasing the increasing number of products on the market.
3) Small gang PvP -- which was my first love in EVE -- appears to be all but dead in 0.0 space. Small pick-up roaming gangs that you could log into EVE and X up for with 20 minutes notice have been strangled by blob warfare, weeks-long deployments behind enemy lines (and the planning and logistics that go with that), and super-organized fleet doctrines where not only is your role and ship chosen for you, so is your fitting.
4) Virtually every solo pursuit in EVE -- which I'm driven to due to the late US TZ -- has been systematically nerfed and replaced with pursuits that require larger groups. L4 missions and sanctums/havens are two examples, replaced by WH ops and Incursions, respectively. The less said about the state of solo PvP in EVE, the better. Needing a larger group would be fine... if I could put together a larger group.
As I said, any one of these four factors, I could compensate for alone. I could find new income streams to compensate for #2, for instance. It would be a lot of work over several months to do it, but I could do it. But all four hitting at once?
There are also two additional external factors that are draining off the enthusiasm I once had for EVE:
1) Sov warfare is simply not as fun as I thought it would be. I knew tower and structure ops were going to be a part of it. But increasingly, if you don't have a cap or super-cap, the tower op fleets don't want you, or at best relegate you to boring support roles. CCP's increasing cluelessness about their own game in this aspect is really starting to wear me down. If they don't like blobs, why do they keep implementing changes to the game that encourage blobs of larger and larger size? I must be the only person that's ambivalent about time dilation, because all I can see happening as a result of it are 2500-person blobs instead of 1500-person ones.
2) The ratio of veterans to newbies in EVE continues to rise thanks to EVE's inability to attract new players. We've seen this in both the stagnant subscription numbers and the average number of SP EVE toons have, which is rising rapidly. But the vets are doing a great job themselves in driving off the newbies. The level of nastiness in EVE is rising at an astonishing rate. Granted, EVE is a dark, cold, unforgiving universe, blah-blah-blah. Fine. But people are taking it to extremes that are troubling... even dangerous. It takes no time at all for a calm forum or Twitter conversation to turn ugly... often disgustingly so. DDOS attacks on enemy Teamspeak servers or enemy supercap pilots are now commonplace. And now a DDOS attack has been launched on EVE News 24 that's kept it all but inaccessible for weeks. This. Is. Wrong. And I'm honestly no longer interested in being part of it.
So, I'm out.
A few questions that I'm sure will come up:
1) Can you haz my stuff? No. I'm going to leave the accounts idle for a couple of years and see how I feel then. I'm still very interested to see what comes out of Incarna, so I will probably revisit after it's fully in place. I will probably also revisit if my living arrangement changes. EVE was a lot more fun when I lived in Connecticut a few years ago. But in a year or two, if I find that I'm still disinterested, then I'll find some few-months-old toons struggling to do L3 missions in their Drakes and I will give them my stuff.
2) Aren't you worried about falling behind in SP if you do come back? No. Ripard has 50M SP. My other three mains have 40M each. I'll be continuing their skill trains until their respective subscriptions run out, buying a few PLEXes to synchronize those dates (which looks like it'll be early August or so). If I do decide to come back, it will be because there are enough new EVE players that 40-50M SP are still worthwhile.
3) What happens to the blog? I won't be updating it any further with EVE info, but I'll leave it up because I know there are a number of posts on it that are pointed to in various forums. And once I move to a new MMO, I might very well start blogging about that. Jester's Trek may continue somewhere other than New Eden, after all. ;-) There are several MMOs coming in both the short and long term that I'm interested in.
4) What are you going to play now? I'm going to start with World of Tanks and Global Agenda, I think. I have friends playing both. And both have the instant-on, small-gang PvP thing going for them that drew me to EVE in the first place. There are also a couple of MMOs coming in 2012 that I'm very interested in, notably Kingdoms of Amalur.
Comments on the blog are still active, but I've switched them to moderated. If you've read this far and you are inclined to reply with some variant of "cry more, noob", don't bother. I will delete your comment without reading it or posting it. However, if you have thoughtful comments that you want to put out there, go for it.
Fly safe, capsuleers. o7
EDIT (19/Sep/2011): There's an update to this post.