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, March 6, 2014

Pilot

OK! So there was what I consider a big announcement today that I'd like to talk about some. ;-)

Needless to say, I'm thrilled at the prospect of custom ship skins, custom colors, corp and alliance logos, all of it. This has been something I've been strongly in favor of going back almost to the beginning of this blog. And what's more, various EVE devs have been hinting at the possibility of doing this going back that far, too. It's one of those things that gets spun up from time to time and players right across EVE are usually overwhelmingly in favor of it. I certainly am! And this time, it looks like it might actually happen.

I don't even mind too much if micro-transactions are involved. ;-)

So needless to say, when this has come up in discussions with CCP devs, I've been unwavering in my support for putting dev time into this. Lack of individuality and customization has always been a weakness of EVE and I think a lot of the devs realize it. The issue is that making this kind of change is going to be freakin' enormous. Done well... done correctly, this will be the kind of graphical update that will put the Trinity patch in 2007 to shame in terms of scope. We're not even done with V3 graphics here and CCP has to seriously consider going straight to V4. That's what they're facing.

So it's not at all surprising that they're stepping into this cautiously. Thus, the "pilot" ship painting program. This thing has "baby steps" written all over it. It's relatively easy to implement: a good bit of artist time, certainly, but in terms of development time not as ambitious. A few new BPCs, a few new items in the NeX store, a few new ship TypeIDs, some tweaks to ship recognition here and there. As I said, it's baby steps.

And it's from these baby steps that CCP is going to decide whether to commit itself to a larger effort. The comment thread is already well-launched, dozens and dozens of posts, and lots and lots of them are already clamoring for "rig-style" ship painting. I've asked for this myself: a ship base color plus two or three accent colors, plus a place to put a corp or alliance logo.

It's a big job. I don't think any of us including myself can appreciate how big a job it is.


CCP is going to decide whether to do this big job based on nine ships, a slightly controversial price point, and a model that... well, it hasn't worked very well so far. After all, you can buy a Catalyst with a gorgeous paint job for +14 million ISK over the base model. I look at Jita and I see a few dozen such Catalysts sold per week. Meanwhile, the plain old green Catalyst sells in vast numbers -- hundreds per day -- and is probably built by players for their own use or for the use of their corps or friends in numbers nearly as great. So yeah, there's a hill to climb here.

I'm here to encourage you to help CCP climb it! This is something that should be done. This is worth spending developer time on.

It isn't hard to read between the lines on this one. CCP is going to be watching this one closely:
If there is no demand, then it would be quite difficult to justify dev time spent on such a project though. This is one of the reasons why we have this pilot project in place.
So here's the thing: even if you're not particularly in favor of this first step, if you are in favor of the destination, do what you can to support this pilot! I for one made the argument that if players don't necessarily go for the five color schemes that are going to be piloted, it should not be automatically taken as a failure for the concept. But I'm not sure how much that message got through.

Painting a frigate? During the pilot, that will cost +8 million ISK. Painting a battleship? +62 million ISK. I've argued for lower prices. I want custom paint jobs everywhere. I want it to be just as automatic and just as common as rigging ships and done nearly as casually. I want these things exploding by the hundreds... just like all those Catalysts. ;-)

This is a pilot program. CCP will decide if it's successful or not based on player participation in both the pilot and the comment thread. Please jump into there and make your voice heard!

42 comments:

  1. Based on pricing, sometimes I wonder if CCP is following Sony's old business plan:

    http://www.vgcats.com/comics/?strip_id=211

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  2. Not to throw a bucket of water on your raging fire of passion for ship skins but if anyone at CCP believed in this they wouldn't start out asking money for it. Is anyone in this capable of actually managing simple business decisions? You give people simple and free options --- they like it and use it, decide they can't live without it, THEN you put the good stuff up on a "micro" market and monetize the really good stuff --- corp/ally logo paint jobs and custom paint schemes.

    The stupidity of CCP continues - Aurum was a bad idea to begin with, is universally tainted to all vets as a reminder of Incarna, and the current price points don't actually allow micro transaction anythings --- you pony up a PLEX for Aurum.

    Look at a comparison with how SOE implements in game currency with cosmetic items in a game like Planetside 2 and you see how amateurish CCP continues to be even when bringing something into the game everyone wants.

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    1. This. Plus they need to get their priorities straight about whether you can see the ships or not.

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  3. Ok. Ship skinning is cool. But at the prices listed, the destruction of the skin... well, let's just say I am not all that interested. In the spirit of this, I would recommend something more like microtransactions to unlock slots of customizations, that can then be applied via an in-game item or service. But at the rate you can lose things like firgates, this is an absolute non-started. I look forward to suggestions on tweaks to this program.

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  4. I'm delighted they are doing this. I'm glad you've been pushing for it. I know the comet will be popular. The other ships... maybe it's too much, price wise? Could I buy one or two of these for fun? Sure! Am I going to whelp a few dozens blowing up blues? Probably not... I really want to be on board but +8 million on a frig just for colour? That's more than doubling the price of a t2 fitted ship.

    LR

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  5. It's a good idea, but CCP borked the price point for microtransactions again. The hull for a frigate is 500k-ish, a complete fit for a frigate is around 8mil. To paint the thing doubles the price. The rule of Eve is to consider it dead the moment you buy it, and I'm not spending 16mil isk for a pretty frigate when a regular frigate at 8mil will do just as well. I'm space poor. I could see spending another million... I do that already to fit a ship from price fluctuations and "Oh crap!" buys of modules I thought I had but didn't at over priced local markets. But 8mil. No. Just no.

    I don't care if CCP needs this proof of concept to go over well to implement their larger grand plan. They've utterly and completely misread the market, and the lengths players will go to to make and save isk. There are entire full fledged professions, plural, devoted to making everything as expensive or as cheap as the market will bare. Doubling the price completely goes against the market realities of Eve.

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    1. I agree with you, and told CCP as much. Several other CSM members did too. Hopefully, as this pilot goes on, they'll tweak the price point.

      The good news IS that it's $0.22 U.S. or thereabouts. The bad news it that you're absolutely right: ship skins should in part be priced based on the price of the hull. Paint on more durable ships can be more expensive but frigs should be throw-aways.

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    2. I know this probably sounds anathema to Eve, where everything is destructible, but has CCP considered the idea of just making skins unlockable? Like, you pay aurum (or pay isk to someone who paid aurum) for a Thukker Rifter paint job, and thereafter you can apply a Thukker skin to any or all of your Rifters, but access to the skin is tied to your character rather than the ship?

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    3. Yes, but I don't think Battleships will do well either Jester. Battleships got pretty well nerfed from group play after the Warp Speed changes. Anyone who used the things in group meta(excepting fleet level) have been doing everything in their power to stop using them. With the Halloween War pretty much done, battleships are at the lowest demand levels I've seen in my entire time playing Eve. Mission runners buy them, but those are 1 and done buys, excepting idiocy, and most of those have gone over to faction BSs or Marauders. Choosing another hull type, cruisers or battlecruisers would have been a smarter idea to gauge demand.

      Did CCP think this out at all? Frigates are too expensive, and battleships are too under used now to accurately gauge real demand for this feature. Not that I don't think battleship skins are horribly over priced in this setup, they are, but I don't see that as the largest limiting factor on sales of them ATM.

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  6. I dunno. I read the dev blog and they kept on saying, if there is demand, we'll do it. Do they really doubt that the demand is actually there? Or just if demand is there based on the current price point they've set?

    As its priced now, I can't see anyone who isn't just really wealthy and doesn't care about cost using these things on PvP ships. Instead, I can only see them being used on PvE ships that aren't likely to be blown up. Unfortunately, the ships they chose for the skins aren't generally used for PvE.

    I know plenty of folks who have dropped 5, 10, 15, 25 bucks on special appearance only outfits, mounts, weapons, ect in other MMOs. Those are all permanent items though, that you can always wear, regardless of which armor set (or ship in EVE's case) they have on underneath.

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  7. For that pricing I would like to see the paintings "doing" something, instead of just looking pretty. Like in World Of Tanks where Camo-Painting actually increases the camorating of a Tank.
    Perhaps something like an ECCM buff? To prevent pay2win they could offer paintings for ISK that last only a week.

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  8. I'm glad that they choose the baby steps. This way they lose little when this disaster fizzles.

    Why am I 100% sure that ship painting is a waste of time? Please look at this in-game screenshot and select the ship which has the worst look, needing a good repaint: https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/-u9v5P9UNQJ0/UfWInyzLSCI/AAAAAAAAFqw/fP_S3IplLag/s800/logis.jpg

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    1. was exactly my thought. The only real benefit is for ship spinning, 1 player PVP videos, an the occasional FC with ego

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  9. It seems to me the biggest issue with all this is the TypeID due to the market, wouldn't making them as assembled rigged ships (eg can only put up on contracts unless repackaged) help with this issue somewhat?

    You repackage the ship, you lose the paintjob.

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  10. And as I posted on the forums, how much cash did the CSM members make when they started stockpiling Plexes when this nightmare was discussed with CCP?
    It is clear that the smart ones just made billions, if not a whole lot more.

    Plexes spiked in advance of this announcement, and went nuts today, and are going to go a whole lot higher. Nice to see I have will have to grind even more ISK to buy my ingame plexes, just to feed some idiots' vanity.

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    1. Yes, PLEX price spike has nothing to do with the trend that they always rise on March and September, or the fact that all those B-R newbies had to decide if they want to subscribe after their trial.

      Delete
  11. "I'm thrilled at the prospect of custom ship skins, custom colors, corp and alliance logos, all of it."

    I always liked the idea of NPC coprs skins on ships.

    I'm rather afraid of custom skins made by players beacause i dont want "hello Kitty or my litle pony type of skins in EVE". We pay subscription for such thing not to happen.

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  12. I'd point out that as either a corporation or alliance, this could be considered either marketing in the case of sales, or as a uniform of sorts. Most especially if logos can be applied. There literally could be a thousand angry bees in system...

    As far as high sec goes, why not be able to skin for the corporation you predominantly mission for, and as for low sec... What pirate wouldn't want to be able to plaster skull and cross bones across their bow?

    This has the potential to be fantastic. I've been waiting for a long time for this.

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  13. A more viable solution in my eyes would be to sell the skins at an increased 'one off' price, but then treat it as a permanent unlock, of sorts; giving you the option to apply said skin to all relevant hulls.

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  14. BraverthananyoneelseMarch 7, 2014 at 1:28 AM

    Funny thing is that with such a pricing, it only makes sense to costum paint your expensive PVE Battleship aka making your Gankmagnet only a bigger target xD

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  15. Well an easy fix for their price problem would be simply a 10 runs BPC for the paint job. 8 mil for a single frigate paint job is just too much.
    but 800k? no problem. That would be in line with the price understanding of players i would guess.

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  16. This is a really insecure way of going about making a decision.
    I'm a creative. I know well the anxiety of making bad aesthetic and business commitments. But to own the IP they need to own the mistakes as well as the successes.
    I can't help feeling that they have got plenty of data from the various liveries that already exist in game (like the Catalysts you mentioned) and frankly don't like the look of it.
    dangling the carrot in this manner is just exit strategy. Passing the buck onto the player-base is not democracy in action - it is a sign of a souring relationship. "It's not me it's you." sob "nothing I do for you is good enough anymore" sob.
    Harden the Fuck Up CCP. The CSM is advising you well. Commit or don't. Grr.

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    1. Yes it is, and I said so in the thread where CCP introduced new, more reasonably priced clothes to the NeX a while back.

      The player riots pretty much sapped any boldness right out of them, at least as far as anything vaguely associated with avatars, AURUM or customization goes. It will take several runaway successes before they stop groveling and apologizing every time they do something like this.

      Because I can't see any way to ~fix sov~ without making some very basic and painful changes to the game, there will never be a good time to do it, either.

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  17. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  18. Give me my EoM-Apocalypse already!

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  19. But there is an option out there that's at the price point people will pay. Its about 6 million isk in value for a paint job on a faction frig. If people go for that option instead of the Aur paint jobs, ccp will have felt out a pricepoint. There are also people sitting on a few piles of free aur from some time ago. If those people spend that money on paint job ships, and those paint job ships end up on the market, ccp will have another set of price data.


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  20. *and* a special ship gets more attention... More chance of being primaried or ganked "just because "

    LR

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  21. The color schemes are about as impressive as the bastion module animations -not much.

    They're minimalistic, dark and dull, and the result is generally unimpressive and awfully expensive -the foundations of a CCP success.

    I'd rather pay to be a unique capsuleer than to be a lump of metal painted in a unimpressive dark-on-dark color scheme. Two years of uselessness later, EVE avatars still are the best in industry... and both their quality and their uselessness are a testament of CCP's true skills.

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  22. Agreed, the pilot paint schemes are not great, and they are too expensive. Dear CCP, I won't buy these particular ships, but fully support the idea, please make more.

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  23. I sometimes wonder if CCP understands what the word micro, in microtransaction means. There is a price that I would paint every ship, and one where I will paint none. The only thing this blog reminds me of is the incarna update, and the greed is good internal mail.

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    1. Be fair. It's hard to use the word "greed" about an item that costs $0.22. This isn't a $70 monocle.

      I agree that the price structure is out of whack, but it isn't about greed.

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    2. $1.50-$2.00 BS's, which I sometimes die daily in. People will ether not buy them, or it will only add to risk aversion. Look at the way planetside to does their camo.... Even though it's more then 22 cents, it's still a micro-transactions because you are not buying it all the time. The way CCP is going although it's cheap, it's still just hanger decoration. It's different if you live in highsec I suppose, but it's not uncommon for me to lose a few cruisers a week in null, just fucking around. Should I really be in a position where I'm like, meh, I don't want to risk my paintjob Zealot, so I am gonna skip this fight.

      Monocle you have forever so well expensive it's actually nowhere close to the price I could end up spending on paint jobs even in one year(assuming I didn't go all risk averse with paint job ships), I would gladly trade two plex for alliance logo on a BS for life, and another plex each for the same on frig's, and cruisers. The fact that they are destructible micro-transactions makes them forever plex sinks, and the game doesn't need a plex sink, infact the price of plex has doubled in the last three years, and the price of living(in game) hasn't even come close to that.

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    3. An item that cost 0.22 ç and whose value is zero because it's gonna be destroyed within minutes, is exactly 0.22 ç too expensive.

      CCP is trying to sell consumable cosmetic items by implementing them as non-cosmetic cosmetic items. Those paintjobs have a real value as in "you could had bought a whole frigate with what costed to paint that one for the 30 minutes it lived", so they are not neither cosmetic nor provide any consumable value, and no matter how low the price tag, it's still too much compared to zero value of the item.

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  24. Jester, do you know what numbers they will be looking for to call this a "success"? Also, if everyone were flying in custom paint, does that impact rendering performance at all? Does CCP want this yet?

    For CCP to implement this I would think they'd need to add virtual textures to the client, as well as a way to composite the grid with support to add or remove composites on the fly. Lots of work but will add lots of crazy effects possibilities besides custom ships.

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  25. The first thing I thought when I saw the ship skins blog was this was their EA hiree's idea. Maybe I'm right, maybe I'm wrong, but that's what I thought. I'm not excited about the "skins" for the ships. It reminds me of the LoL model, except at least in LoL you purchase a skin and keep it forever. In EVE things get blown up due to the nature of the game. I am super excited and will be purchasing a cop car Navy Comet though.

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  26. Cynical comment moment: this pilot test was designed with the express intent to fail.

    From the devblog: "Are pilots more risk-averse if they are flying a painted ship? At what volume and velocity do painted ships travel through the markets of the greater EVE economy?"

    So they want to compare economic dynamics of expendable hulls valued at 500k and 8m, with the exact same stats. Either they are idiots for not being able to predict what will be the outcome or they are simply plain trolling us.

    I agree that charging $0.22 for cosmetic items isn't greedy. This has nothing to do with greed. This is about engineering a proof of concept test that is meant to fail from the beginning.

    New thread in F&I: "Awesome, awesome ship skins"
    "Hey guys, I'm kinda new here and I was just wondering, wouldn't it be awesome if we could customize how our ships look? What do you think?"
    "STFU nood fag! They tried it back in early 2014 and it borked horribly. We don't want any dev effort wasted in useless stuff. STFU and move along."

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  27. "So here's the thing: even if you're not particularly in favor of this first step, if you are in favor of the destination, do what you can to support this pilot!"

    I understand your point, but this is a bad implementation and bad pricing, and I fear that if the response is too positive, that CCP will get the wrong message and think that this version is fine.

    I would hope that CCP would be smart enough to understand that if this doesn't get the positive response they were looking for, that it is not necessarily because people don't support ship customization in general. Unfortunately, this is CCP we are talking about, and their track record for misinterpreting data speaks for itself.

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    1. Anon 6:48 said: "Unfortunately, this is CCP we are talking about, and their track record for misinterpreting data speaks for itself."

      Amen to that. CCP applies natural selection to guys who "get it right", as they leave the company sooner than later. That leaves CCP with devs who wouldn't get it right even if their wife had a child of a different color than his parents...

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  28. Too expensive for something that is so easily destroyed and not replaced.

    At the rate that I lose ships, I'd be better off buying monocles....

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  29. Paul Oosterman is running a customization survey for those who are interested

    http://freeonlinesurveys.com/app/rendersurvey.asp?sid=dxekjkbm7fklae2227436&refer=tinyurl.com

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    1. Interesting survey. Want to note, most of the designs displayed at the survey are way, way, way more appealing than the ones at the pilot... I seriously wonder wether some at CCP want the pilot to fall flat on its face.

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  30. While I'd look forward to this, they should really consider increasing the number of runs you get on a BPC in relation to the quantity of ship class which is destroyed. Even though $0.22 isn't a lot, when dealing with how fast some of these ships will pop that will rack up waaay to quickly for comfort leading to a gradual decline in use.

    I think these should be implemented in a rig type fashion and manufactured like rigs. Instead there should be set paint jobs which CCP produces and then different meta sized paint jobs which are blank but allow you to incorporate different coloring. Higher meta gives you more control of how much you get to customize on the ship.

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