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...

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Gateway drug

I'm going to dance along the :nda: line for a bit, hopefully without touching it.(1)

When the members of the CSM got to Iceland for the Summer Summit this year, we wanted to get a few minutes of Hilmar's time. I in particular had three questions that I wanted to ask him and I cheerfully admit they were kind of loaded questions. As you know, I have a strong interest in increasing EVE's logged-in player base, something that I've advocated for the last couple of years and something which CCP has had a very notable lack of success doing. Sure, the subscriptions are going up, the fights are getting bigger, but I feel like we're an increasingly large army of alts rather than a diverse, thriving, growing community.

I might be totally wrong -- I hope I am! -- but that's my impression.

Question number one for Hilmar was basically "At Fanfest last year, you made a heartfelt plea for EVE players to help you market and sell the game. We learned at Fanfest this year that the marketing efforts are primarily aimed at DUST 514. Are you giving up on marketing EVE to new players?"

I've found over the years that the more thoughtful an executive is, the safer it is to ask him or her a yes or no question, and asking a yes or no question is also a good way to pick up on whether a given executive is thoughtful. One that isn't will answer a yes or no question in a 30-word sound byte. One that is more thoughtful will give a more nuanced answer. I was pretty confident Hilmar would go the latter route and he definitely did not disappoint me. I wrote up the whole session with him and hopefully it will survive the minutes editing process. But I think it's NDA-safe to say that if I had to sum his answer up in two words, those two words would be "No, but..."

EVE is a hard game. We all know that. It's hard to learn, hard to master, hard to explain, hard to teach. A lot of you positively glory in how hard this game is, and a few of you out there get disgusted at any discussion of making the game a little easier to teach and learn.

So it's kind of interesting to read Mabrick's attempt to read the tea leaves of recent CCP executive statements in one of his posts the other day. His key question: is CCP giving up on EVE as an "entry level" New Eden experience, and shifting to marketing EVE as a advanced option for players that outgrow DUST 514 and Valkyrie? Put more simply: are the latter two games going to be pushed as the gateway drug that gets people to move up to the strong stuff, i.e., EVE Online?

It's a really cute way of looking at the problem. Go read his piece. But I'm pretty sure the first two words of the answer would be "No, but..."

I never really gave the Penny Arcade Report the credit it deserved as a analysis website. I read it pretty frequently and they did some really interesting pieces about EVE and other games. Now that it's shut down, it seems a little strange to link one of their pieces, but this piece they did on new players entering EVE featuring some commentary from Helicity Boson was quite interesting. Helicity tried to make the point that there were simpler avenues for slowly easing into the EVE experience. But at the time the piece was written I couldn't help but smile at the tone. "No, EVE isn't hard. All you have to do is follow this eight step guide to your first couple of months in EVE..."(2)

Meanwhile, I watch friends in Rote Kapelle playing Warframe and vaulting to near end-game play in those same couple of months. More and more of the MMOs coming out lately seem to be "throw-aways", something you spend fifty bucks on for boosters or a gold tank, get three months of fun out of, and then abandon. Just in Rote Kapelle, just in the last six months, there were aficionados of Warframe, Mechwarrior Online, World of Tanks, War Thunder, Airland Battle, Chivalry, and Guns of Icarus, as well as the near-ubiquitous League of Legends. The games come and go like a winter wind. Hell, for Chivalry alone, people were playing it for about five days, I said what the hell and bought it on Steam and -- literally before I had finished installing it! -- Rote members had moved on.

I once described DUST 514 as having the potential of becoming the tail that wagged EVE's dog. The Playstation Network has millions of people logged into it. If only 1% of them had become regular DUST players, those numbers would have quickly dwarfed EVE. That's clearly not going to happen now. Eight months ago, I said that if DUST's logged-in player count was 5000 players, that would be a disaster. That disaster is here now and doesn't seem to be going away. So the idea of DUST 514 being a gateway drug for EVE is one that I don't believe has any traction. If anything, CCP might have some luck going the other way around. "This whole space thing not for you? Well, we've got this other game, it's a shooter, and..."

That leaves Valkyrie. Will Valkyrie be EVE's gateway drug? I do think it's gonna sell a lot of Oculus Rifts, certainly! And I think it's going to be successful. But hey, I thought the same thing about DUST 514, too.

Short version from me? Even if it happens and Valkyrie players looking for a deeper experience try out EVE, I don't think CCP should rely on it. If it happens, fine. It's a nice bonus! But as a primary strategy, EVE needs to be its own gateway drug and needs to have its own marketing strategy. So I'm going to continue to advocate for a simpler, easier-to-teach, easier-to-learn new player experience, and I'm going to continue to advocate for CCP to try to sell the game that's making them successful. I continue to think that's the way forward with the highest likelihood of success.


(1) The title of this blog post is pretty much guaranteed to get me a lot of blog spam, but it's too good not to go with.
(2) I make light of this piece but if you have ten minutes, go out and read it. It's worth your time.

45 comments:

  1. Destroy the existing game mechanics that allow a select few to control null sec, and much of the overall game. Create game mechanics that allow more people to operate in null sec with more than the 2 options that exist today of joining an RMT cartel or the certainty of a pointless death.

    Make suicide ganking an order of magnitude more painful for the gankers.

    Will CCP lose some subs when the sociopaths and RMT'ers are not able to get fulfillment? Of course. But the net gain will far outstrip the losses.

    Otherwise, the game will continue to stagnate, and further head down the path of Blob-sec Online.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I feel inclined to think that the issue now is not what the game haves, but what it does not have.

      Delete
    2. Evidence of RMT Cartel please Dinsdale?

      As for the real options - join an established group, try and establish your own group or die... seems pretty right to me. Not everyone can "win" eve and command a small part of nullsec to themselves safely. This would utterly defeat the purpose of the game.

      also, evidence of RMT cartel ? :)

      Delete
    3. There is no mechanic that's going to stop large, well-organised, skillfully led groups of players dominating small, casual, weak groups short of CCP simply giving the latter groups permanent sovereignty - a cure that I'm sure you'll agree would be worse than the disease (not least because it would be open to exploitation by the aforementioned large, etc groups.

      Even if small, etc groups /were/ gifted space, unless CCP literally blocked players operating on behalf of the large, etc groups from entering their space, the small groups can *still* be forced to "kiss the ring" if the large group has sufficient motivation.

      In short, your wish is logically impossible to grant in an open, single server, non-instanced game.

      Delete
  2. "Will Valkyrie be EVE's gateway drug? I do think it's gonna sell a lot of Oculus Rifts,"

    You know they have made a big point of saying that they have not confirmed it will be released on the PC at all or if it will use the Oculus Rift? They are going after the sweet sweet Sony Exclusive money again. You might be disappointed when it turns out to be a PS4 exclusive and only works with the Sony headset.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Icelandic entrepreneurs are a breed apart. SONY may be inscrutable, but my gut says the Big H didn't hand over the tale end of the fizzy shark to them in their deal. CCP has teeth in the MMO industry and their growth is organic.
      I'm betting on the old pirate and his motly crew keeping Iceland in the Green and Greenland (elsewhere) on ice.

      Delete
  3. If anything, I expect diversity in EVE to go down as playstyles are burned out in disregard from CCP.

    Let me introduce you my PI friends: they're gone. They will rather not PI than pay taxes to some asshole who blew the CO, even if the taxes are lower. Why should someone profit from their hard work for literally nothing?

    And my TEST friends. They're having a tough time playing nullsec game without nullsec space at all. So tough, that they're gone, actually. Dunno who of my friends are N3, but sure I will find in a few months when they lose the war and leave...

    My PvE friends. They come and go monthly. One must be insane or really need the ISK to do PvE every day. Buying a PLEX is way more convenient when ISK are the issue (buy EVE so you don't need to play EVE, beautiful scheme!).

    My WiS friends... well, they're handing money to Chris Roberts, David Braben and even Egosoft. CCP is not selling avatars, and so they are not buying EVE. And probably they shouldn't, though.

    What I don't have, are friends thrilled with the development plan about the stargates to nullsec 2.0. For some reason, I don't have Goon friends.

    Last, no matter how hard I try, I can't think of a reason why someone should start playing EVE now. Not a friend, at least.

    So I understand Hilmar. No, they haven't given up growing, but they can't help to stagnate in order to not dwindle, and hope the best from other projects.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "Last, no matter how hard I try, I can't think of a reason why someone should start playing EVE now. Not a friend, at least."

      Well PvP would be one reason.

      Delete
    2. "Let me introduce you my PI friends: they're gone. They will rather not PI than pay taxes to some asshole who blew the CO, even if the taxes are lower. Why should someone profit from their hard work for literally nothing?"

      I know there are problems with EVE, but this is... assinine. As a member of a POCO-holding group, we didn't do it for "literally nothing". Blowing up those IBCOs was work. Investing in billions of POCOs - and then having to defend them! - is also work. So it's not free isk.

      Besides, are you telling me some players would rather give their money to some faceless NPC corp than give *less* money to other players !?! erm...

      LR

      Delete
    3. So someone taking a bunch of friends to attack and control a POCO is doing "literally nothing" to make profit from your "friends'" PI efforts.

      Also, you apparently have inside information that player built stargates will inevitably lead to systems that equate to "nullsec 2.0" and will inevitably be controlled by goonswarm.

      Please do tell us your source.

      Delete
  4. Eve is a hard game. Its hard to learn the mechanics and its hard to find something to motivate you to do things in Eve. I have no idea how to fix those two things unfortunately. I'm a few days away from my 1yr anniversary in Eve. That's 3mo longer than I played SWTOR and 9mo longer than I played any other MMO.

    I would have quit Eve long ago, but I found 2 people that helped me. One was a guy named Gulmint who was in the first corp I joined. He had been playing for years and constantly helped me with fits and game advice. Whenever I would see a pilot I thought I could engage all I had to do was ask Gulmint and he would tell me the likely trick to pilot was going to use (and in eve its always a trick) . When we were wardeced he got on coms, didn't tell us to dock up, instead he told us about the free ships the corp had amassed and be handing out. He also gave us the plan for going about our business that week. That business mostly included hunting the guy wo deced us.

    Not so popular on this blog, but James 315 gave me a cause. Yes it is a bit silly but there isn't a day I don't login that there isn't something I can do for the New Order. I can always gank some miners. I can haul stuff or scout for other gankers and bumpers. I can ally in wars against New Order corps. And all the players I've met in NO have something going on fun even if it isn't enforcing the code. Heck I've spent 2wks haunting a C3 wh where a friends wartarget ran. We've run 2 corps out of that hole already using nothing but stealth bombers. What a blast.

    What Eve has precious few of is guys like Gulmint and james 315 who can teach the newbros and give them something to do. A sandbox is fantastic and Eve has ruined me for all other MMOs, but a sandbox also needs content creators to give the sandbox meaning and purpose.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. And you are specifically targeting those content creators and shitting on them as part of that ridiculous new order thing. Hypocritical is what it is.

      Delete
    2. There is nothing ridiculous and certainly nothing hypocritical about the new order. The new order is a leading organisation in content creation. Emergent gameplay is a coveted result of our actions. Breathing life in to high sec is our obligation. Our duty is to preserve EVE's nature. We live for highsec.

      Delete
  5. I know that you, Jester, like to believe that it is the difficulty of the game that puts off players, but that assumption is easily disproved by looking at the female player numbers. Females enjoy challenges as much as males, if not more - yet they by and large don't want to play Eve. Perhaps the reasons they don't want to play are the real source for low Eve player counts.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. k, so why aren't there a million EVE subscribers? Why did the PCU count go to 30k and then just flat-line there? You're picking up on one small element instead of looking at the big picture.

      Delete
    2. I think you completely missed the point of my argument; The player base is not growing because of the difficulty for the new beginner, but because of the culture of Eve is horrid. This is not a small issue, despite how much Eve players wish to cover it up. Perhaps it is you that is missing the big picture by concentrating on the beginning difficulty of the game. If no one is coming to Eve because of its culture, then it makes no difference how difficult or easy the new player experience is.

      Delete
    3. What is horrid about the eve culture?

      I have never met a nicer and beginner friendly community.

      Delete
    4. EVE culture is horrid precisely due to what a lot of the players do to each other. Scam, suicide-gank, mock, even to the point of mittens' fanfest thing. A lot of EVE players will simply say that that's how EVE is. That's true. Discounting it as a HUGE reason for why the game isn't bigger than it is would be an equally big mistake, though.

      Players, MMO or not, are used to getting their stuff back if someone nicks it. It's not "meant" to happen. EVE cultivates it. Even CCP mentions scamming as a way of making money. Again, as a long-time EVE player, I recognize that that's just a part of EVE culture. But it's an -incredibly- toxic thing for new and less educated players.

      A newbie scammed out of his/her first 250 mil or whatever that he was going to buy a BS to do L4s in won't think "Oh I'll just go do L3 missions for a month or two again," he'll think "fuck this game, I'm out."

      Delete
    5. I for one think that your assumption about female gamers is wrong. There are way less females playing hard core games than males. And please don't quote some surver that shows that it isn't so, because you and i both know that these surveys also include casual mobile and FB like games, games that have a large female audience.

      Btw, did you know that SC community did a forum survey about player's gender and it found out that there were about 5% of female players? So what is wrong about SC, game that hasn't even been released? Also i believe that if the same survey is to be done in Elite: Dangerous forums the result would be the same.

      So by occam's razor what is more likely - a misogynistic global space game conspiracy to keep female players away OR perhaps there are less female gamers out there who like hard core space genre games?

      Delete
    6. EVE culture isn't horrid. It's the pinnicle of intellectual snobbery. We laugh at people who make the same mistakes we made and learn the same hard lessons we learned way back when. We value fishing with submarines because like submarine warfare; it's the intelligence and counter intelligence that results in the dupe that dazzles our jaded imagination.
      But only the squeely pink newbies don't know the true value of community and picking flag to salute at an early stage. Some psychopaths never bother to find out and just keep shuffling pixels into pleasing patterns no matter the emotional cost.
      The tone of a cold dark universe is set by the lore and gives licence to liberate minds to test for themselves the values their guardians taught them.
      So no, don't suggest that EVE needs to be nice to attract new players. It is an important part of the Real World as a quarantined research lab.

      Delete
  6. I've played DUST since closed Beta, and I frequently burn out, only to come back and try it months later. Each time I come back, I start a new character and try again to get into the game. I want to get the perspective of a new player.

    Every time I've come back the experience has been worse. Even though individual elements of the game seem improved, the overall experience for a new, low-skill player gets worse and worse. The disparity of character skill between new players and veteran players is a huge divide that most players will never stick around long enough to cross. The difference between the power of a skilled character and a low-skill character is too great. The difference between basic gear and advanced prototype gear is too great. However, as bad as the problem is individual, when all these factors are brought together, the new player experience is completely frustrating.

    Even if I use my characters that have been passively gaining skill points, the disparity is huge. One of my characters has a year's worth of passive skill points, and it's still not enough to have level 3 or 4 in all the support skills, much less the suits and weapons. Basic skills are a huge skill point sink that will take hundreds of hours of gameplay or years of passive skill point accrual to acquire. Meanwhile, veteran players with 30mil skill points can get into militia gear and out-tank, out-damage, and out-maneuver me in advanced gear.

    The DUST 514 player-base is dying a slow death and while the Dust 514 mechanics are cool in theory, they have been poorly implemented. So the question in my mind is this; will DUST be able to fix these problems and flesh out the game before the playerbase is so small as to be non-existent? And what will dev's do to attract players back to New Eden?

    I hope they have some answers.

    ReplyDelete
  7. I'm a n00b (a mere 12mil SP), so I've recently been through the entry gates. The initial user experience (first day or two) is a very tough - it's very complicated. There are a lot of 'dead end' buttons - for menus and functions you cannot do - that should be disabled until you have done the tutorial or explicitly switched them on, or learnt the skill. If noobs were presented with fewer options, it would help cut down the complexity.
    There is also a dead end for combat misssioning at L4 - one of the most 'normal' career paths. There is no smooth transition to PvP, or another activity - pretty much everything else you start from scratch (no applicable skills) and are a noob once more. I think it would be better to have some 'transition' missions - e.g. a 'kill the pirate' where the pirate warps off, and returns a minute later with full shields. This would start to introduce the concept of scrams, etc. Also, most l4 are basically a 'grind' (lots of low-skill enemies). It should be possible to have fewer high-skill targets - maybe a hard single BS (re-use sleeper ai?) - to start the training towards PVP. Alternatively, a FW style setup - where the ship size is limited - to encourage and train the L4 mission runners into more PvP style activities.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. ^^this guy is going places!

      Delete
    2. I hope you are taking notes here Jester!!!:)

      Delete
  8. I want Big H to hold to EVE forever. I want what I have achieved in the EVE universe to stand at least until my death and I hope beyond.
    I would understand if they wound up the projects that are not making the most revenue, markets are harsh, but like a good little wannabe environmentalist I believe in biodiversity. DUST may be the weakest organism in the EVE eco-sphere but it's presence makes the whole stronger.
    If my precognisance is on form CCP is chomping on the bit of new technology, pushing the Vally to do Moar Moar Moar in order to deliver the original vision. Meantime I have to agree with Anonymous; ships balance and virtual expansion feels like treading water to stay afloat.
    I may not be spinning the gerbil wheels on Tranquillity but I'm still cheering at the slidelines. I don't want New Eden to simply exist, I want it to LIVE.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Maybe it is the human dilemma. Most of us grown up in the way that we consume content. In childhood, in school, at work and in our free time. Everywhere are sources which tell us what to do and how to do it. Such a creative concept like a Sandbox which gives you the choice how to "create" your own game is hard for most people. My first touch with MMORPG`s was WoW, now I am more or less content addicted. I am really fascinated from the high level gameplay and theory in Eve but it is hard for me to motivate myself to create my own "World" in Eve, Maybe humanity isn`t prepared right now for this kind of gameplay.

    ReplyDelete
  10. I wonder to what extent Hilmar is reluctant to market EVE for the same reason you'd be reluctant to have guests over to a house that you were in the middle of renovating.

    I feel like they are in fact treading water while they essentially reboot the game. Once they have something they like, the marketing will start up again in earnest. But right now? It's more or less attracted the people that it's going to attract. It will need to clean itself up and look more presentable to attract new people.

    And no, I don't mean Trammel. Hell, no. I mean the myriad collection of paper cuts, slashes and gaping wounds that we've all gotten used to working around, that stand between the player and the game. Forests of right-click menus. Terrible, dated, finicky interfaces. POSes. Their internal PVE creation tools. Mechanics that encourage fleet sizes that render the game unplayable, or even crash it, as a matter of routine. Sov. CREST. There's a lot to do, and that's without considering the *expansion* of the game.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Either I'm bitter or you are too naive. The game will die before they make significant improvements on 10% of what you listed. Discourage ever-growing fleets? Redoing their PVE content? You are out of your mind!

      Delete
    2. Yet that is exactly what EVE needs to happen. The graceful degradation of old code to maintain the environment to nurture the green shoots of new code adapted to the contemporary world.
      CCP can not and should not attempt to control it's player-base. But it does need to have a firm grip on the world it has created. Tool to make things easier for them and interfaces to make the acute amongst us aware.
      One of the reasons I enjoy irritating The Mittani is that he's right about so many things. The destruction of HighSec and the stagnant security of Empire is important for the game. Nullsec Alliances are the New Empires. CCP has seen this and are playing the game as advertised. Here is where I get nervous. How do you transfer the assets of NPC Empire to Alliance with code that was never designed to do that. The answer is bit by bit, POCOs are a start, like fungi eating at the trunk of an ancient oak. The storyline thrills me, the practical code and game mechanics fascinate me.
      Still the Ego of The Mittani needs to be opposed on principle.

      Delete
  11. It was always hard to answer the question, "who is going to hire me as a mercenary?", and even harder to answer the question, "how can I make money hiring other people as mercenaries?" That remains true even among people who are actively looking for the answer, much less among novices.

    Players have been trying to expand the gameplay since forever, but CCP always shoots them down in favor of some dull, masochistic, mostly solo PVE grind. Siphons are a step in the direction of pilot reliance for sov-holding entities, but it's so very late in the game. Ice was a misstep, RMT was a misstep, anti-automation was a misstep, abandonment of system wide belts development was a misstep, POS were a misstep, lack of moon goo in caps was a misstep, targeting passive income instead of infrastructure vulnerability was a misstep.. they'd have to dance quite a jig to get where they need to be. Frankly, I'm not sure if they still have the necessary talent on the rolls, or with a free enough hand to do what needs to be done at this point. EVE is rickety old code that probably few understand, much less understand enough to do significant changes.

    Everything with the fundamental unit of organization in the game, corps, flows the wrong way. This turns groups of players into hunter gatherer groups, and if sociologists can tell you anything about hunter gatherers, they don't fight much. EVE resembles a quiet savannah more than a battlefield, and if you've ever been on a safari, you'd know they were pretty dull unless you just love taking pictures of things. Look at what people think about as high pvp prowess: baiting. EVE's endgame has rarely been more than a fishing simulator with submarines.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This is a fascinating idea. I wonder what we would find if we applied Permaculture design principles to game design.
      The global recession may not have effected the elite that play EVE overmuch but the stresses of negative thinking have taken the bluff and bluster out of my sails.
      Only the drilled anarchy of the CFC seems not to have their drive sapped by external pressures.

      Delete
  12. This is amusing for a few reasons. I've made it pretty clear before what it will take at this point to grow the active logged in playerbase. Nobody seems to like what I have to say on it. Maybe it'll take Star Citizen to succeed to shake CCP up a bit to listen and get it done.

    Until then, haha at anyone who wonders why the logged PCU numbers aren't as big as they could be. If you don't listen to what has been said before, or brush it off, its your loss. I just spent 700 USD on Star Citizen, whereas I've not spent anywhere near as much money or time on EVE in comparison.

    tl;dr: Open the door, make station-side content, or continue to stagnate. Your choice. I lose nothing if EVE cannot evolve.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You may want to wait unti Star Citizen becomes the crushing success you say it will be before actually saying it. Some are septic, while others are setting themselves up for a lot o disappointment.

      Delete
  13. EVE can't be "gateway drugged" or "marketinged". The other MMOs have very similar ruleset and mechanics. If you liked World of Warcraft, you like LotRO or GW2. All the publisher needs is to make you try his game and not the competitors. Or give you the feeling that "everyone" is playing this game.

    These don't help EVE Online at all. Making some random guy try out the game randomly just leads to yet another noob losing all his stuff on week one on a lowsec gate and ragequit.

    It's not about getting new players, it's teaching them the game to the point where they no longer suffer devastating losses on a daily basis.

    ReplyDelete
  14. It takes a certain mindset to play Eve. I have introduced a number of people to it and their overriding response is "Wtf - how does that be interesting it's just loads of crosses and icons."

    What I fail to put across, every time, is how the social side of the game determines the experience. My guess is that a large percentage of the people that quit, never have a meaningful social interaction.

    The people you meet and talk to absolutely make the game - you might not like them but at least you had an interaction.

    For me, Eve should be marketed a lot harder on it's social interactions and much less on it's "links with other games." It's Eve - it isn't an Olympic triathlon. I would have bailed out so fast if I wasn't chatty and enjoyed talking to new people. The game's strength is in the relationships you make.

    If making those relationships were made easier I think we would see a lot more folks around.

    ReplyDelete
  15. This blog is being discussed at the EVE forums:

    https://forums.eveonline.com/default.aspx?g=posts&m=4027180#post4027180

    ReplyDelete
  16. The other point to make here is does CCP need to expand to survive? Does it really need to havest noobs, rattle, mill and pound them into powder and add ingredients to make it's cake?
    EVE has captured a generation of Sci-fi forward thinkers, technical experts, market gurus and military tacticians. Yeah, they may be getting a bit long in the tooth now, but they believe it or not they somehow manage to breed. You can bet the hard won skills of surviving in the EVE universe will be passed on organically.
    Didn't you run against someone who used his EVE playing young daughter's popularity as a marketing tool during the CSM8 election?
    The established houses are fat and well founded. In the (probably misquoted) words of Trebor; what we are really worried about is letting CCP to piss in it's secret sauce.

    ReplyDelete
  17. "It's not about getting new players, it's teaching them the game to the point where they no longer suffer devastating losses on a daily basis."

    Insightful as always, Gevlon.

    Every high sec gank, every tear shed because of the New Order, every complaint that rings with "Make suicide ganking an order of magnitude more painful for the gankers" as Dinsdale spouted is a result of ignorance of game mechanics.

    EVE is complex and demands that every player be familiar with the myriad of game systems in place in order to survive in the harsh PVP landscape of New Eden. I don't think the solution to the lack of player retention lies in dumbing the game down. I believe it lies in ensuring that all new players are intrduced to the critical survival mechanics as quickly as possible.

    As early as possible, it should be emphasized that players should pay attention to their surroundings (d-scan & local), that even relatively "safe" HiSec requires you to be mindful of how much you stuff into your ship. Most of all, new players should be made aware that PVP can happen to them at any time, whether they like it or not and the best way to cope is to work to minimise losses.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. [quote]EVE is complex and demands that every player[/quote]

      there is a huge gulf between "every player" and an obsessive narrow focus on mining barge pilots.

      let me direct you to the re-balance of battlecruisers. CCP observed that for a long time there was a choice of either the drake or hurricane. adjustments were made to provide more scope in the game. in a similar vein the longer NO has a microscope on mining expect CCP to sooner or later inject "more scope" into suicide ganks.

      Delete
  18. I was going to comment on the forum topic that led me here but the forums these days are spammed unforgivingly by negative ***holes 24/7 so I figured I'd try something new. (It has always seemed to me that if anything is going to kill EVE, it will be a tolerance for and appreciation of those negative ***holes, btw. There's a difference between sportsmanship and just being a ****.)

    But I digress.

    I agree with a lot of what you wrote here and my own game supports it. I played EVE for about 4 years as a single-account player with no intention of ever adding a 2nd. My main is my in-game identity (so much so that when I switch mains, I biomass them rather than sell them) so having a 2nd account seemed superfluous for the longest time. But eventually I relented and added a 2nd which made lots of tasks twice as easy and effectively doubled my income. So I added a 3rd. That was a no-brainer. I'm 2-3 months away from adding a 4th and I'm not really sure where that train will end. I suspect around 4-5 because my eyes start to cross at operating 3 already. But my 3 accounts pale in comparison to the alt blobs I see flying around on any given day. I have no desire to reach those heights, but in 5 years, who knows? Will that be me?

    The tutorials need work. Undoubtedly. Imo, if their purpose is to mitigate EVE's learning curve, then Aura should be more interactive during the tutorial missions. The last time I went through them I was amazed that these huge blocks of text pop up one after another 1/5, 1/10, etc. and you have to click next, next, next to undock. That system is set up for failure. I can just see the noobs spamming the next button with no intention of reading a book in their hangars. They want to play a space game - not read. I've long felt that Aura should follow the players along on their tutorial missions, interjecting advice during the missions. As an interactive tool, it would also be helpful if she spoke more, but I guess that's asking for a miracle.

    Secondly, it should be readily emphasized that combat is a necessity in EVE (not just as a chosen playstyle but as a necessary component of the game's economy. Players should be told that if they do not blow up ships or have their own ships blown up occasionally, there would be no economy.) People need to know that there are no 'safe' activities on day 1. And if we truly want miners to believe us, (not to pick on miners, but they, as a group, tend to be highly risk-averse) we need to challenge their safety. We need to give them the tools to fight back too. When escape from an altercation is your primary defense, that is not pgc-conducive. I would want them to engage enemies as often as possible - not run away as a matter of course. And with the huge ehp buff, we've made miners gank-proof to the casual ratter. When I mine in skiffs, I don't even care anymore when a frigate or destroyer flies into my belt. What's he going to do? Bump me? And there's also room (major room) for improvement on npc agression in high sec. Have you seen the types of rats that attack a mining fleet in 0.8 - 1.0 systems? They've got like 6 ehp and are no threat whatsoever. Why do they even exist? They come one at a time. Even if 25 of them showed up, it would take an hour for them to take down a poorly-fitted venture. It's ridiculous.

    ReplyDelete
  19. Eve is like a retirement home. When it opens it is full of sprightly 60 somethings but after a couple decades of doing business they are all dozing 80 year olds and no one is sending their 65 year old mother into that place.

    Nullsec, the main content of the game (let's be honest), is sewn up good and proper by some well entrenched players who will probably still be there in 5 years time, fighting over grudges from donkey's years ago which mean nothing to a 2013/2014 character signing up from reading the NYT/BBC stories.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Man, I *LOVE* your retirement house analogy. XD

      +1 from another Anonymous (maybe this blog should have Disqus support too)

      Delete
  20. CCP has made a number of critical blunders in the past few years and sub numbers are falling, which is why you won't hear them talking much about them. DUST, ofc, has proven a financial disaster, and continues to lose money. But, as it turns out, the mistakes on the EVE side are having an even worse long-term effect.

    The lack of any major eye-popping new content in the recent expansions has resulted in much lower new player subs, and trial account numbers are at an all-time low. Attempts to make EVE easier have also failed to attract new players. This has resulted in CCP's shift of focus to get existing players to multi-sub, to make up for the lack of new subs. Don't believe? Keep track of how often CCP offer the "Power of 2" sale.

    Resubs also made up a significant amount of CCP's uptick after new expansions. However, sweeping changes - such as the complete redo of all of the ships (don't call it rebalancing); unnecessary changes to names of modules and implants; and "dumbing down" of the game - have completely put off the traditional resub players, who don't want to invest the time to relearn everything about EVE.

    As for making expansions changes based on groups within the current player base? Bad idea. Every time that CCP does something to cater to a particular group - null-sec PVP, high-sec miners, FW players, whatever - they lose players in one of the other groups, often due to sheer frustration or disgust.

    Now, Valkyrie? What a joke. More resources spinning off into oblivion.

    EVE is on a downward slope. CCP execs have made bad decisions and need to admit it. As with alcoholism, the first step is to accept that there is a problem, then you can work on curing it. Refocus on the core product. Attract new players and get your old players to resub. Think about the game overall, rather than attempting to micro-manage groups within the game.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I don't think there is a problem. It is a conceit of modern civilisation to measure success in terms of gross domestic product and trade counters.
      Only marketeers of a consumer culture get cold pits in there stomach at the sight of a plateau in their graph. To anyone else that means an equilibrium has been struck that could be well maintained. The rhizomes of Dust and Valkyrie are vital for the propagation of the Intellectual Property that CCP owns.
      Dust landed on ground well sapped by competition. I predict Valkyrie will bloom.

      Delete
  21. "Army of alts"
    mmodata suggests rapid growth:
    http://users.telenet.be/mmodata/Charts/Subs-2.png
    That does not correlate with login-numbers though:
    http://eve-offline.net/

    Something that might open your eyes:
    1) Park a char near the final agent (in space) for the final mission of the SoE-Arc
    (The SoE arc "blood stained stars" is heavily suggested to new players on every blog/chat/website)
    2) count the players that arrive there within 24h
    3) compare that to the "new-born characters" graph on eve-offline
    4) be shocked

    ReplyDelete

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.