Let's go big picture. I mean really big picture. In December, I wrote several posts about "what it all means." Now it's time to tie all of them together.
What are the three most important things that have to happen for CCP in the next eighteen months? In order of importance, they are:
- DUST 514 must launch successfully and must be at least a modest success in the marketplace.
- EVE must attract a new generation of, and I mean it, brand new players.
- The current EVE players -- particularly the veterans -- must be persuaded to continue playing the game, and more things need to be found for them to do.
DUST 514 must be at least modestly successful. I've been saying this and saying this for months (most recently in "Narrow the gap"), nobody believes me, and I'm just going to keep saying it. I am reminded of another of my favorite bad movies, Air Force One. In the flick, Air Force One, the U.S. Presidential aircraft, is hijacked. Someone on board looking to thwart the hijacking jury rigs a fuel dump. In response Gary Oldman, masterfully playing the terrorist hijacker, demands the U.S. provide mid-air refueling for the plane. His persuasive logic in making the demand is impeccable: "It's simple physics. Without fuel, the plane crashes... everybody dies. Tell me what I want to hear or I will execute a hostage every minute until the plane crashes... or the refueling plane arrives!"
Needless to say, he gets his fuel. Needless to say, CCP is not going to drop DUST 514. The plane that they're on has to carry them. They simply have no choice. At this point, they quite literally have too much invested in it. That plane will carry them or it will crash and take them with it. DUST must succeed.(1)
Number two, something else I've been saying for months: EVE simply must attract a new wave of brand new players while DUST gets its legs under it. This has driven dozens of game design choices this year, as also covered in the post above and in others I've written. As I put it last month:
CCP has been pushing hard toward new EVE players. Every single little feature in Retribution is either aimed directly at new players, or aimed at giving new players the ability to hurt veteran players (bounty hunting, turning Suspect flags on for can-flippers, etc.).Part of the reason I get so passionate about my various Snapcount posts is that I'm trying to use them to gently influence CCP to understand that the way they attract new players isn't by polishing the sneaker. In the "Slow bleed" post last month, I made my case for building an expansion around a big idea as a means for growth. It's increasingly clear that CCP Unifex and CCP Ripley are feeling the same way. And that's what drove all their pointed questions directed at the CSM that resulted in the "Strategy Document". I'm so looking forward to reading the CSM Summit Minutes on where the discussion went from there.
But third, CCP also can't forget who's paying the bills. That's all of you reading this post right now. Yeah, we're not as important as the two items above, but we're still damned important. So relax. CCP Unifex and CCP Ripley also have to keep their eye on who's carrying the ball for them. The current CSM is made up of a lot of long-time veteran players who are frequently reminding them that the vets have done everything you can do, seen everything you can see, and flown everything you can fly. They need new content, even if that new content is a new reason to blast at each other.
But CCP also has to be careful. The worst thing that could happen to CCP right now is for all of us to have some reason to get angry with them. Another summer of rage like we saw last year might doom EVE and the company at this fragile time. So they have to proceed gently, gently. That's why when CCP Fozzie and the rest of that team is out there rebalancing ships, it's frigates and destroyers and cruisers and only gently touching on battle cruisers, and that even more gently and slowly. Touching the capitals, touching the battleships, or touching the fleet ships might spark another fire. The ship balancing team has to work up the ladder.
So does everyone else. Upsetting the apple cart would be a disaster right now.
How to proceed? In my opinion, from the bottom up. It's time to swing for the fences again and whether you call that "Jesus features" or something else, CCP needs to start thinking big again. They need something that they can use to get new players into the game while also keeping vets excited about the game. But they need to start by getting all of us excited about it first.
Did I say we were the least important? I might have fibbed a bit.
But we have to do something hard: we have to accept CCP's vision and buy into it. If they start down this path, we have to trust that the plane will take us someplace we'll want to be when it lands. As I've said a lot, nobody was asking for Apocrypha when it came out...
"If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses." -- Henry Ford
(1) No, I didn't just compare CCP to terrorists. It's an analogy. Lighten up. ;-)