Welcome to Jester's Trek.
I'm your host, Jester. I've been an EVE Online player for about six years. One of my four mains is Ripard Teg, pictured at left. Sadly, I've succumbed to "bittervet" disease, but I'm wandering the New Eden landscape (and from time to time, the MMO landscape) in search of a cure.
You can follow along, if you want...

Friday, July 27, 2012


Out in Iceland, you can't hear it, but CCP is breathing a collective sigh of relief.  This whole summer is a demonstration of how good David Reid, CCP's Chief Marketing Officer, is at his job.

Fair warning: you're about to read one of those posts that gets me yelled at.  Buckle up.

A year ago tomorrow, I wrote a little post that I called "Reinforced".  Go give it a read.  I'll wait.

Bit like waking up from a dream, isn't it?  Bet you forgot about that whole "Jita riots" thing.  And that whole "Greed is good" thing.  And that whole $99 commercial licenses thing.  And that whole forums thing.  And the Scorpion for Aurum thing.  And the "Door" thing.  And the space-pants thing.  All that stuff was only a year ago.  Only a year.  The EVE Online tower was reinforced.  But the battle was won and it's been saved, repped up, and is now operating more or less normally.  July is passing quietly, the anniversary of the Jita riots unmarked.

Which is funny to me, because conditions this summer are nearly identical to the conditions last summer.  CCP is just handling it about twenty times better than they did last year.  Their communications and marketing strategies are working wonderfully.

Don't believe me?  Consider: CCP is currently in another :18months: cycle.  They're committed to their current development direction... and that development direction has almost nothing to do with spaceships.  Oh sure, there's some "tiericide" going on, a few new mods, mining barges are getting tweaked, we're going to see a new mining frigate, and factional warfare got a nice unintended bump.  But the age of the "Jesus feature" is over, remember?  So we're not seeing new capital ships, new tech three ships or mods, no wormholes or incursions or new missions, only the slightest modifications to the horribly broken T2 production cycle...  Unless the CSM Summit Minutes reveal some remarkable new strategy, there's nothing major coming down the Pike.

...except DUST 514.  You know... space-barbies and space-pants... paid for with Aurum.  Heavily armored and heavily armed space-barbies and space-pants, to be sure.  But they're not exactly spaceship-shaped.

Meanwhile, everything that's happening in EVE is really not much more than well-excecuted smoke and mirrors to hide the fact that the Kama Sutra position 43 is exactly the same as position 42, except with pinkies extended.

But the EVE player base is just fine with that.  One guy on Failheap even said that the minor Inferno patch coming on 8 August is better than what we got from Incarna and Tyrannis... put together.  If that's not a good demonstration of good communications and marketing, I don't know what is.

Check out this Gamasutra article featuring an interview with Jon Lander aka CCP Unifex, another really smart guy.  Again, I'll wait.

It's kind of an interesting article in this context, isn't it?  Check out this quote in particular:
And even though some players have criticized aspects of Inferno, says Lander, "participation goes up, because it's not about giving players a feature to play through; it's about giving them tools to do their own stories."
It's a really smart insight into what makes EVE EVE.  As I've said before, the players are the content.

I'm not sure I have a point to all of this -- that's why I'm going to get yelled at.  And I'm not feeling negative about the game at all.  Quite the contrary, I'm as charged up about EVE and EVE's future as I've ever been.  Guess I'm just as committed as CCP is.  ;-)  But it's really fascinating to me how little there is that is concrete for that feeling to rest on.  Others are certainly feeling differently about it.  EVE News 24... you know... EVE News 24... has said that they're going to start covering games other than EVE.  Because they feel like EVE is stagnating.

I think it's wrong to call it that, and I've written as much.  But certainly, a lot of the EVE community is hanging out, watching, and waiting to see "what comes next" with this game.  Same as they were last year.  But they're a lot quieter and more relaxed about it than they were at this time a year ago, even though conditions haven't changed all that much.

How long will that commitment last?


  1. I hadn't been in Eve enough years before, but I think I have enough experience now to be able to say that the summer slump is a very real thing.

  2. I agree and disagree with you. I am kind of satisfied with what they are doing with EVE and such. Where I agree is that I am unsatisified with how little they talk about EVE to the press and stuff. Most of the press interviews are about DUST and little about EVE.

    I do agree with you that they focus too much on DUST, but most of that focus is given out of the EVE game. They focus on EVE in the game, but out of the game they focus on DUST. Makes me feel a little bad.

    Suppose I havn't heard the winter expansion yet, maybe that is when it will show, that they focus on DUST too much. We shall see, maybe in 6 months you can put the gloat face on. (After you have purchased that face form the Aurum store, for 50000 Aurum.)

    1. yeah. i agree. plus, the less they focus on eve the less they're "fixing" what ain't broke

  3. all i know is there's noobs to be mentored just like the old days...luckily i know a hell of a lot more than just ore mining wizardry.

  4. Yeah but "EVE News 24" is a misnomer anyways. It's more like "nullsec politics & drama, nullsec 'gudfite' BRs, and the occasional 'syndicated' blog-post for the trolls to shred."
    Since apparently the "Delve War" was more of a 'police action' (if even that), and virtually all of EN24's subject matter (and target audience) is part of the ClusterFuck or SoCo, or at least "aligned" with them (I'm in the latter, and ya know, I really don't care for Southern Comfort -- if I ever get moar EVE-time regularly I might start the Wild Turkey or Captain Morgan Coalition just to spice things up!)... so really what drama, politics, and "gudfites" are there to write about?

    One of the fundamental things that's always bothered a small corner of the back of my mind is that while it's "one shard and everyone plays in it", there's still several different "universes" out there that, other than relying on each other vaguely for market transactions, really aren't connected and have only the most occasional and passing influence on each other.

    FW folks blow each other up in a 'foreverwar' that can not ever actually be _won_. There's no taking enemy hisec systems, or converting them to lowsec. What about expanding the frontiers and taking nullsec systems too? And highsec...poor hisec has nothing it can really do to low or null, and low/null's impacts on hisec are limited to what? Market PvP via T2 production, and occasional campaigns like the Ice Interdiction, Burn Jita, etc... but what? Jita didn't burn. Jita station is still there, with not a scratch. It's been months and the status quo has returned there with a vengeance.
    The "delicious tears" have dried to small salt deposits...a few carebears quit, a lot more raegeedededed!!!, and a lot of people just played an alt, JC'd away, or just stayed clear of Jita on general principles, and ... "no fucks were given" about the whole mess, by and large.

    Aside from a few carebears arguing away on the forums for a "truly safe hisec" and pointing to Burn Jita as some sort of damning evidence of the obvious need for total safety in EVE because :nullsec = OP: and :carebears = helpless victims: ...no more fucks are given now, that's for sure.

    Cue that Gene Wilder/Willy Wonka meme: "So tell me again how player content drives and changes the world of EVE..."

  5. I think most old veterans, myself include have stopped playing EVE years and years ago, and generally only look forward to alliance tournaments and other drama filled events. We've already scene the through the smoke and mirrors, and realized it's better to just leave, than to deal with all the stress and raw emotion Eve can cause.

    And you know what I found by finally coming to the end of bitter vet disease, gaming should be fun and relaxing, not stressful and emo raging. Life is too short for that. Why does this matter with the article above? Because I feel other individuals are getting that too, that there are other games out there that don't cause so much stress, and they can actually relax and have fun. Admittedly EVE is a good concept, but the CCP is too stuck in there ways to ever change.

  6. I agree & think CCP dodged a bullet this Summer, and narrowly at that.
    It was probably a good thing that crime watch was not released because as it was way too much time was spent fixing the alpha release of UI which still seems in Beta.
    Inferno 1.2 besides the alchemy changes you mentioned is, none too soon, also addressing 2 isssues caused by Escalation:
    1) buffing barges which is definitely needed in wake of the removal of Drome poo's gun mining alloys
    2) while not mentioned anywhere but a single post by CCP Affinity the OTAs will also be changed on August 8th patch so hopefully null/lo sec Incursions will be run again.

  7. Like always... unti the Next patch... =]

  8. I think it's a matter of direction. Last year, CCP was totally focused on Incarna and ended up releasing a single captain's quarters. All that work for so little benefit for the players. If Incarna had come out with interactivity and stuff to do and places to see (i.e. stuff we wanted and were expecting), things probably would have turned out different.

    This year, we've seen new nebula, new turrets, missile launchers, new effects, new ships, a balancing pass on frigs, just to name a few. So even though CCP might be focused on DUST, they aren't neglecting their flagship and sole released product, EVE, like they were when Incarna was the priority.

    Another thing to consider is that DUST is being developed in China in another office by another complete development team that hasn't been leeching developers from EVE for the most part (to my knowledge anyway). So the development of one (Dust) doesn't necessarily come at the expense of the other (EVE). If it does, it's not apparent as things are still getting done at a good pace.

    -Baljos Arnjak

    1. Where do you think the money comes from to pay for the development team in China?

      Every shilling that CCP invests in DUST is one less shilling that they are investing in Eve.

    2. True, but I think people instinctively understand that a company has to expand their product line in order to grow and don't have a problem with a company working on more than one title, especially when the new title has the possibility of directly benefiting the first.

      But, you missed my point. My point was that EVE's development isn't being completely subsumed by DUST's development.

      -Baljos Arnjak

  9. If I tweaked your nose the same way CCP "tweaked" barges and alchemy, you'd be missing a face.

    If you were involved in minerals or moon goo, right about now you'd be on the verge of wanting to blow up statues in Jita. But you're right, Jon Lander's team is doing a good job of managing expectations and trying not to let new mechanics or game rule changes catch us out by surprise. No surprise un-announcement while people were at FanFest about massive nerfs to anomalies. The changes to drone poo were communicated well, the upcoming changes to moon goo have been communicated well, the upcoming changes to barges have been communicated well.

    Now we just have to get some people in CCP who understand game design and economics.

    1. Who really cares about moon goo these days?

      You can now make more ISK via high-sec ganking than defending/mining/processing tech moons. And, it is a lot more fun for everyone.

      So, whenever you need a couple billion extra ISK, just fit a couple of gank-fit Tornadoes, and pop some high-sec mission Tengu's or bling-fit Incursion runners. Takes maybe about 5 minutes max, from start to finish.

      I remember the days of ratting in 0.0 for officer mods. Now, it is so much easier to "rat" high-sec carebears. The drop percentage for officer mods is certainly much higher... lol.

    2. A game that has everything a sci fi buff ever wanted, exploration, good artwork and effects, interaction with real people (so you don't just get stuck with the flaky AI), enough 'room' to be as obbsesive about team/lone wolf play as you want to be (or not) is being reduced to battleships (just hit the right square)and if you don't want to play (is the cry) you don't understand Eve. Fun for everyone.

  10. Another way to look at it, (and I may well be in a minority of one here) is how ludicrious last year's riots were driven by a handful of super vain people who couldn't abide a vanity item existing but not being accessible to them.

    I never gave a toss about monocles and still don't.

  11. I agree there isn't much actual difference between last year and this year, except perception. But, perception is everything. If CCP had made these relatively minor fixes to the spaceship game last year and did a better job with PR spin, last summer's meltdown probably would not have occurred.

    But, Eve Online is also badly stagnating. New sub numbers - or lack thereof - clearly show this to be true. Tweaks to the spaceship graphics keep things looking fresh, but the underlying game engine is aging badly at this point.

    Just take a look at how you "control" the direction and velocity of your ship in space - the maneuvering UI is a complete joke. As for combat UI, maybe PVP isn't really as silly and simple as "click Orbit and press F1", but it is pretty darn close. And, tactically speaking, PVP is still all about "spreadsheets in space". Try playing without the Overview open some time, and see what happens.

    None of the game players I know think that Eve is particularly difficult. Rather, at this point, they think it is just becoming obsolete and clunky to play, as compared to newer games.

    So, I'm all for DUST and I hope it does gangbuster well. CCP needs the infusion of new players and revenue in order to keep the company running and to afford to rejuvenate Eve Online.

  12. Why you not mention the frigate role buffs, and the V3 update?

    Those are both spaceship centric, and are sucking up a lot of man hours.

  13. Space Barbies who can shoot at each other are a heck of a lot more interesting than Space Barbies who are each individually stuck in their own quarters....

    I think the biggest blowup over Incarna was the microtransactions thing. People were afraid that EVE was going to go "pay to win". Of course, that's exactly what DUST 514 is, and nobody seems particularly upset about it, which of course is part of your point. However, it's always easier with a new game than an established game, especially an established game where some folks have lots of power, and may have enough ISK that they don't even pay at all any more as they are winning.

    However, Incarna itself was rather dishrag. I think "Anonymous" above is right when he points out that Incarna had no interactivity-- that's the biggest deal in an MMO of having something to do. Incarna really was nothing more than Space Barbies, and that meant not much interesting game to distract people from the change in the business model that CCP was pushing so ham-handedly and ill-consideredly.

    1. Incarna's space barbies obviously could not interact with the current videocards without overheating like a logi's repper on a T1 ship with 10% resistances & all bufer. The technology they developed was & still is not in touch with the current state of hardware ( that most of Eve's player base has ) in order for the barbies to interact.
      This is probably why we won't see DUST on PCs for another 2-4 years

    2. Dust isn't pay to win, dust is designed to be an arcade game. The equipment is costed at about 25 cents for a full set of equips, though of course you can also buy and/or craft they for 'free'.

  14. There are so many development needs revolving around core gameplay issues that I question how much longer CCP can keep the balls in the air. This game is almost 10 years old. It's beyond me how so much can stagnate while in dire need of attention (and I'm not even talking about the UI).

    POS. Drone control interface (and core uses/stats). Industry interface. Moon goo imbalance as relates to T2 production. Structure grinding sovereignty mechanics. Stale PVE content. Iteration on LP stores and mission agents. Ship rebalancing. New content for high SP players who have remained loyal customers all these years. Mining improvements. Ice Mining de-stupefying.

    The list goes on and on, but the point is CCP works so incredibly slow to address these issues. Fixing one of the above problem areas every 6 months is no longer acceptable IMO. And the core reason has got to be CCP's unwillingness to assign (or hire) enough developers to do all the work that needs to be done. A lot of it needed to be done yesterday, to be quite honest.

    One thing that is a universal truth: EVE retains whatever vitality it has left because there are no competitors for it in the spaceship MMO market. There is a vast ocean of RL riches and success out there that remains untapped, just waiting for a new game to come along and finally put EVE out of its misery.

  15. The DUST514 expansion is really "a whole new game" by and large, and that goes down a lot better than WIS which could effectively have been a new game, but not EVE at all either, and then never went past the tech demo stage.

    Come on! With regards to DUST514, I bet even the dearest of PS3 haters among the EVE pilots aren't immune to the tickling excitement caused by "the link".


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