There have been lots of dev-blogs and dev-posts from CCP lately. Some of them, I want to cover in some detail. Others, though, don't really need a deep look. So I thought I'd cover the more important dev-blogs in the last ten days or so that I just wanted to briefly comment on. Consider this post sort of "Junk drawer light". ;-) In reverse order:
Evil Nasty NPC (23 October). This one details that the devs are going to make secure containers, station containers, and all other boxes and freight cans manufacturable by players, as well as the three classes of survey probes. These are all positive changes, in my opinion. One thing that isn't mentioned is whether these containers will be recyclable. It seems very likely that the answer is "yes". So if the values at all encourage this, expect to see a lot of NPC low- and null-sec alliances buying containers by the wagon-load now with the intent of recycling them on December 4 and have hundreds of millions of m3 of minerals or PI products or whatever appear in their null-sec stations quite literally overnight. Hopefully CCP will keep this little trick in mind.
New Eden Open Update (19 October). CCP is greatly increasing the prize pool for the tournament, as well as offering prizes for watching the tournament, as well as lowering the minimum entry fee. It's of course incredibly tempting to say that this is just desperation on CCP's part to have this tournament engage player and participant interest as much as the Alliance Tournaments. That said, I'm not going to say that. I also don't buy that CCP is trying to cash in with this tournament. I do sincerely believe that CCP as a whole and the devs participating in this in particular want this tournament to succeed and want it to launch a whole series of EVE tournaments. I honestly think CCP wants to profit from it by a larger player base, not by making money on the tournaments themselves. It's a worthy goal.
The simple fact, though, is that there are two chilling effects this tournament is having on that goal. First, having the tournament take place during the U.S. Thanksgiving holidays is -- quite simply -- a dumb move. CCP has always favored their European contingent in everything from mass testing schedules to Live Events to dev fleets to the Alliance Tournament itself. I myself had to get up at 5:15am to participate in one of Rote Kapelle's AT10 matches this year. But blatantly effectively disenfranchising a third of the player-base from participating in this tournament at all? That's a new low.
That said, with the rules in place for this tournament, it was always going to be a rich player's play-thing. This is polo or horse-racing, not NASCAR.(1) In all of AT10, we saw only one team field previous AT tourney prize ships once. That's not going to be the case for this tournament. For these reasons, Rote Kapelle isn't even going to attempt to field a team, nor have I heard about many of our best pilots being picked up by other teams. I know that some of this problem was supposed to be solved with sponsors, but really how many "outside" sponsors are there with the kind of means necessary to support a team? Only three come to mind for me: themittani.com, somer.blink, and EVE Online Hold 'Em. EON Magazine might try to prove some kind of point about independence by sponsoring a team. After that, I expect you'll mostly see internally-sponsored alliance teams, sprinkled with a few free agent ringers.
So the idea is fine, and I'll definitely be watching bits and pieces of the tournament when I can, but overall execution on this one rates about a "C+" and this slightly panicky dev-blog shows it.
Look Who's Talking (16 October). CCP karkur has forever cemented the meme "DUST bunnies", I think. It was floating around a bit before, but now it's official. ;-) I only have a couple of things to say about this one. First, I think that EVE players -- pretty much en masse -- are going to shut off showing infantry players and chat in the chat channels. I just can't see a lot of interaction happening at this level in the short term and the DUST bunnies are going to interfere with the use of Local as an intel tool if they aren't shut off. That means bye bye DUST bunnies.
Even more than that, though, does this UI strike anyone else as really wonky? I have to go to one settings menu to show who is displayed and how their names are displayed, then another settings menu to show how their text is displayed? Do I have that right? Assuming I do, it's a strange way to do business and I can't help but think that someone's going to have to come along at some later date and rework the dual menus to make sense. No doubt there will be another dev-blog about it then.
I also get a kick out of the fact that the only option for highlighting other than your own messages are DUST bunny messages. As opposed to highlighting just about anything else. Gimli joked in The Lord of the Rings about trees having little to gossip about except squirrel droppings. I just can't imagine anything a DUST bunny saying that's going to be important enough for an EVE player to highlight everything every DUST bunny says. In this case, the option to selectively highlight text from certain posters (say, those on your personal contact list) would have made a lot more sense. Just my opinion.
Finally, the Bounty dev-blog (11 October). I've been looking for something to say about this and honestly, not very much is jumping out at me. I just don't think that bounties are going to be that big of a deal. I've had three different CSM members ask me jokingly what I think the bounty on Ripard's head will be after December 4. I answered honestly: "Zero, same as it is now." People have been able to put a bounty on me for about a year now and haven't done it. Hell, aside from the vanity of seeing your face on CONCORD billboards and the obvious scamming opportunities, I've just never really understood bounties.
Are people really going to pump hundreds of millions of ISK into this system with only vague returns? Particularly when the alternative exists to use mercenary contracts for the same thing? I mean, I hope that someone puts a 500 million ISK bounty (the minimum) on Goonswarm or TEST or Solar or PL or NCdot right from day one, but will anyone actually do it? I have my doubts. And those are probably the alliances that are most begging to be bountied.
The one interesting thing about this dev-blog to me is that Bounty hunters will be given a separate ranking which the game will keep track of. I think there's the potential there for a truly new EVE career to spring up based on those bragging rights. But the success of that career is going to be fundamentally inherent on players pumping their hard-earned ISK into this system, presumably with the expectation of return on investment. Again, I've got my doubts but I'm willing to be convinced.
Whew! That went longer than I expected, and I wanted to cover a few dev-posts too, so I'll split that into its own post. I also want to talk in a little bit of detail about the FW change yesterday and what I think it means in the bigger picture. But that, also, will get its own post.
Lots of CCP activity in the lead-up to Retribution!
(1) Hell, it's arguable that even NASCAR isn't NASCAR.