Over the past decade I’ve watched CCP herd the player base into a “Bigger is Better - for CCP” vision. Push more people into Null. Make Null alliances bigger. Make Null more profitable. Push more people into Orcas and Rorqs and capitals, then supers, then titans. Higher goals mean more paid alts, more multi-boxing, more ‘income per player’ that buys into the whole “Null/alliance/donut/farming/capitals” future.
The problem with this ‘vision’ is that it’s a stale, dead-end zone. Ships too costly to risk. Regions too safe to attack. Wars that are too big and too slow to bother fighting. N+1 calculations that take the risk out of the battles you choose to fight, and encourage you to avoid the ones that aren’t a sure win.
Doesn’t encourage strategy, or ‘better’ play, or tactics, for the most part. Just “farm till you have the biggest pile, then drop that pile on whatever threatens your farming”. The game devolves from wolf-packs snarling and fighting over territory to a few slippery weasels occasionally killing a chicken that wandered too far from the henhouse, while 95% of the farm goes right on doing business without even noticing.
The whole concept of “herd them into the gameplay elements that produce the highest income per subscriber” was a short-sighted business goal to maximize income so CCP could continue to be lazy, bloated and careless with the way they develop the game, IMO. It’s also the sort of decision made by bean-counters rather than any understanding of their client base or game design in general. This impression has been consistently reinforced by Hilmar & Co’s clueless management of various game issues. When you have to engage the fiction department to write your apologies for massively screwing up your customer relationships, you’re not fit to lead your game company into anything but the ditch.
The design problem with “Bigger is Better” is that it leads to the promotion of monolithic stacks of resources to produce bigger ships, more pilots to man them, profitable and productive huge alliances to recruit the manpower and gather the resources and protect the farming operations. What this leads to is pure stagnation as everyone is stacking up the biggest armies but nobody throws up against somebody else’s army lest they take significant losses that exposes them to attack from other quarters.
If you’ve ever played RISK, this is often the sort of thing that happens with 4-5 good players on the board. They each take some continents, cash their cards, fortify their borders, and then sit there staring at each other for turn after turn waiting for someone else to make a mistake. Generally someone suicide-attacks out of sheer boredom and desire to end the game.
My own belief is that EVE would greatly benefit, even on the subscription/income side, from a “Smaller is usually better” approach. EVE would be more lively, attract more players, get more subs if there was more small, quick, affordable action. If meaningful battles could be fought without TiDi, disconnects and server crashes. If entities felt they could be a viable force without needing 500 Titans to contest an area.
A lot of what would be needed should begin in training, in Resource Wars, in FW, in low sec. I’ve covered those fairly often before. For what it’s worth, I thought I would post my own notions on what changes might make the Cap/Supercap/Titan side of EVE more interesting.
These thoughts were brought most recently to mind by reading the “Supercapitals should be deleted” thread in Reddit. I should emphasize that I have very little experience with Null, capitals, blue donuts, farming, multiboxing or giant fleet battles. Anything I say is taken from being part of conversations in and about EVE for over a decade now. That said, I do pay pretty close attention to details, battle reports, actual stat and combat comparisons, and discussions with people more intimately involved with these things than I am.
Summarizing some key points from the recent thread, and my own responses:
(TL;DR: after writing the above I saw the rest was too long, so I’ll just leave it there for now and post something over in Features & Ideas. I’ll link it here after I’m done.)