Dear EVE, here is why I say goodbye


(Elarian Francis) #1
Who am I?

As someone who has been extensively playing games for 25 years, seen and played everything of note from pacman and Doom 1 to latest triple A and crowdfunded games, including EVE for many years in the past, and studied and worked as a semi-professional game designer, my feedback is not just wishful thinking from teenagers who have no idea how a gaming company functions, it’s based on relevant practical experience. Take it or leave it.

My Earlier Experience with EVE Online

There were many comments saying that I need more time, so I am adding this section here. I wanted to keep the post short, but in hindsight I should have clarified this:

Quantity:

  • I played EVE from 2007 until 2014
  • Had 5 accounts, multiple 80-100m sp characters
  • at least 200 billion worth of assets + ISK
  • Around 3000 kills on everything from frigates to titans
  • Manufactured 100s of billions worth of T2-T3 ships
  • Made tens of billions from trade
  • Created on my own an 80 page spreadsheet that parses market information online and calculates the costs and steps for component and every sub-capital ship

PVP:

  • I was a hardcore PVPer, spent most of my time in “elite” corps and alliances -Think Triumvirate and Black Legion.
  • Had a private fleet of capital ships, both PVP and industrial.
  • Extensively few every ship in the game except super caps
  • 93% kill efficiency
  • Destroyed nearly 1 Trillion ISK, lost less than 8b.
  • Led small and medium sized gangs
  • Roamed solo extensively in Pilgrim, Ishtar, Tengu, MNI and others
  • Soled entire gangs ranging from 3 to 14 ships in size
  • a sample: https://imgur.com/a/7yo68
  • The reason I chose the above is that it displays the complex engagements I was in

Industry:

  • Had an crew of industry characters for every possibility
  • Manufactured everything in the game except supercaps, mostly T2 cruisers and T2 BS.
  • Had 4 mining characters and a Rorq pilot + ship
  • Had 6 moons and my own moon mining operations in 0.0
  • a sample: https://imgur.com/a/Vp8m6

Trade:

  • Supplied entire alliances(small & medium) with fleet doctrine T3s.
  • Did station trading, long distance trading
  • low-sec and 0.0 trading
  • had my logistics setup for my JFs & Blops - The latter for solo exploration activities in hostile space

PVE

  • Extensive solo exploration for many years. sometimes in hostile 0.0
  • Data sites, Relic, Salvaging, combat sites & escalations
  • Soloed C3 WHs for months, sometimes in populated hostile Whs
  • Found my own empty C3, setup multiple POS and operations there
  • Another 8 months in C5-C6 WH with established WH corps
  • Ran missions in the first few months, mostly lvl 4s, but stopped after moving to 0.0.

It might be hard to believe that one player could be involved and knowledgeable of all aspects of the game, but keep in mind that I gathered this experience over 7 years and different periods. Being a hardcore gamer at heart made it even easier.

You see, there is not a single activity in EVE that I haven’t done at the highest level. So stop saying “you need more time to learn the game” because I probably played 2-10 times more than you, and can teach you for a fee.

Why did I started playing EVE again, and why I quit

2014 was my graduation so I had to focus on my degree. I couldn’t stop playing EVE voluntarily so I had to do it the hard way. give away assets and ISK, and biomass everything.

Now I have more time on my hands, I figured the game must have improved a lot in 3 years, so I decided to give EVE another shot, and enjoy the aspect of building a mini-empire from 0.

After 1 week I decided to quit, not because I don’t understand the game, but because I DO. Even as a returning veteran I find the entire character and skill progression to be too long, prohibiting and boring. I would be training for 6 months just to get the core skills for what I want to do - PVP and Industry.

I love the EVE universe, and would love to play the game and enjoy it, but I want to enjoy it NOW, not after 6 months or, a year.

Yes there are things to enjoy from day 1, T1 frigs/cruisers and so on, But the content I like to use - covert ops, hardcore PVP, roam 0.0 solo…etc is so remote in time and grinding, that it’s not fun anymore.

I decided to write this post on the remote chance that devs actually consider what the players say.


Biggest problems with character advancement
  • 23 categories, 403 skills. that’s your biggest obstacle to retaining new players.
  • Most of these skills require a huge time investment, but the reward is mostly unfelt.
  • E.g: Astrometrics Rangefinding has a multiplier X5, but after a month of training it to lvl 5 it’ll barely be noticeable.
  • Just training core skills would take a few months in any profession. Be it flying a T2 cruiser or Hulk.
  • Most content is gated behind very long training queues, and multiplied by 4, 1 for each race.
  • I can go on for hours really…

How the game shoots itself in the foot

The problem with so much “gating” is that new players never get to experience all the great content available, because they have to wait 1 year to fly a carrier! 6 months to fly a HAC, and so on.

As a game producing company, you spend millions of $ and years of development to create great content, but you lock it behind complications and long training queues, that most of the player base never get to experience even a fraction of it!

You are basically wasting all this development money, time and effort!


Here are some ideas to Fix that

I tried to put the image in the spoiler, it didn’t work.

Skills-Restructured:

J/k about the nudes :slight_smile:

  • Reduce categories from 23 to 6-7, one for each type of game play (spaceship command, manufacturing, trade, mining…etc).

  • Reduce skills from 403 to 5-10 meaningful ones per category. (e.g1: focus on drone damage, guns, or missiles?. e.g2: focus scanning on exploration sites, WHs, mining sites, or catching other players?)

  • Remove core skills and their derivations. They are only a time barrier giving advantage to older players. (e.g Engineering V, Electronics V, science V…etc).

  • All players should have access to the full fitting attributes. There is enough customization with modules, skills, rigs and implants.

  • Remove all racial skills and make a unifying one for each race. They are a huge time barrier that makes most content inaccessible, and favors old players.

  • Remove racial ship and gun skills, replace them with a standard one per hull. E.g [Frigates] and[Cruisers], and so on. For guns it’s [Small Turrets], [Medium Turrets] and so on.

  • Make all T1 ships and modules require level 1 in the [Race Specialization] and 1 in the specific size of ship or module.

  • New player start with [Faction Specialization 3] of their respective race. Gaining level 4 should take a few days to make it a considerable transition, but not a prohibiting one.

  • All T2 ships and module require [Race Specialization 4] instead of 5, and [Size 4]

  • Skill level 5 should NOT be required for anything. when the player wants to specialize then he’ll get level 5 anyway.

As a new player I need the skill choices to answer the main questions I have:

  • What activity am I doing? (Profession)
  • What type and size of ships do I want to use?
  • Do I want to expand to other races?

Below is a very rough sketch:


New Player Experience:

How the experience should be:

The first weeks shouldn’t be frustrating the player over which 40 skills to train, how, why and in which order. After the initial tutorial, the player is informed that he can access T2 by training [Frigates] to 4. Then It should something like:

  • In the first 3 days I want to learn to fly t1 frigates. therefore I’ll train t1 frigates skill. (frig 1 to 4 in 3 days total, that’s the only skill I need to train).

  • now that I learned frigates generally, will I like the specialized ones, interceptors, AFs, Covops…etc?

  • once the player trained frig 4 (making T2 accessible), an NPE agent calls the player and informs him about specialized missions and ships. New agents become available, one for each ship type.

  • The new agent offers the player a specialized mission, giving him a “training” version of the ship that functions as the T2 but doesn’t require the specialized skill book, and it can’t be sold, traded or abused. The agent then gives the player a few missions that simulate the player experience should he specialize in that ship, then sends him to the next T2 frigate agent.

  • At the end of the series, the agents informs the player about the tech 2 variants of cruisers.

  • If the player liked Interceptors, then he only needs to buy the Interceptors skillbook and train it to level 1. The only requirement should be frigate 4. The rest should be “crucial” skills to train, but the player can choose to fly the ship without them, at his own risk.

  • If the player decides to try out cruisers. He spends 3-4 days training cruisers 1-4. Only that skill is needed.

  • If the player wants to try the specialized cruisers, the NPE offers him the same as with frigates, only trial/training ship for a limited time.

A few more points
  • Skill injectors may have been intended to help new players shorten the gap to older ones, but in reality only make it worse. New players can’t afford them, only the old ones do.

  • Gaining skill points offline is great, but a player should be rewarded for being active. mining should gain SP in mining. Finding sites should do so for scanning.

  • I love the idea of mining, but staring at a rock for 20 minutes is NOT gameplay, it’s boring to death. It needs overhauling and enjoyable gameplay.


EVE has one of the highest bounce rates of any game because the company is focusing on the wrong things. I played from 2007-2014, and followed the game until now. This is what I have seen CCP focusing on:

  • increasing the $ expenditure per user through cosmetics
  • increasing $ per user by almost requiring multi-account subs
  • Trying not to lose the old player base by not making drastic changes to the game.
  • Even initiatives that involve the community, such as CSM, favors the old players.
  • cutting costs by laying off employees, especially in customer support.

The first two are a massive error of vision. There is a limit to how much the average player is willing to spend on a game, no matter how much they want to. All this development time and resources on cosmetics does NOT improve the game, does NOT bring new players, and doesn’t even help retain the old ones. I’ve never heard a player quit because there aren’t enough skins or monocles.

3rd and 4th: current players will get bored and quit sooner or later. I played from 2007 to 2014 and got bored. I played 1 week now and the game is the same, got bored + frustrated. Many aspects of the game need a complete overhaul, especially character progression, and the NPE needs massive improvements.

For the last one, I get that the company has to answer to investors and stay profitable. Cutting costs could make the balance sheet look better in the next report, but ultimately it lowers the quality of the game, loses players, and doesn’t bring new players.

I spent hours writing this post not to complain or criticize, I don’t have time for that. I did it out of love the EVE universe, I wrote it because I wish it had 100-300k players, and because I want it to be the awesome game it has the potential to be.

P.S: Kudos on the new forums. It’s great to be able to organize a large post like this.

Edit: Added “My Earlier Experience in EVE” because some posters didn’t even read the OP and keep saying “you need more time to learn the game”.


(Keno Skir) #2

You might well have a bit of experience tinkering with games, but i think you fundamentally misunderstand how EvE works. It seems like your main issue is that end game content is not available in the first week / month, which is actually not a problem at all.

Training time is a non-issue now since skill injectors are a thing. If you don’t want to wait for a skill to train, then do some work in game and buy the SP. There are small and large injectors available depending on how much ISK you can generate or how much SP you need so this is absolutely not something only for older / richer players. I personally know MANY brand new players that grind for small skill injectors to help boost their training rate. (I realise you covered this, but you said they were only for the rich, which needed correcting).

Your NPE improvements make EvE seem even more like a single player game than the current one does, which is in my opinion a step further in the wrong direction.

EvE was once lawless and hard, which is why it survived. Recent attempts to dumb it down for the masses can only lead to bad results :boredparrot:

Thankyou OP for your post, however. It’s nice to see ideas presented well and I don’t want to sound too flamey.


(Yiole Gionglao) #3

Houm… do you know what skill injectors are? Reading your OP, it feels like you don’t know them, and they really make your OP moot. You can buy yourself into a Titan on Day 1 if you have the RL money for it - but of course, acquiring the RL skill to use a ship can’t be bought out. :woman_shrugging:


(Tipa Riot) #5

Strange, I was enjoying the game from day 1 without skill injectors being around.


(Akkadian) #6

@Yiole_Gionglao yes I know what they are, and in fact mentioned them under [A few more points] section:

Skill injectors may have been intended to help new players shorten the gap to older ones, but in reality only make it worse. New players can’t afford them, only the old ones do!

@Keno_Skir You clearly haven’t read [Who am I?] in the OP, so here is a less modest one:

Who I really am

Played Eve for 7 years, 5 accounts, multiple characters over 80m SP before skill injectors even existed. I lived almost exclusively in 0.0 and WH. I owned a private fleet of capital ships, manufactured capitals and T2s, traded hundreds of billions, destroyed almost a Trillion Isk in PVP, 93% kill efficiency, over 1000 kills in the last 2 month I played alone. I fought with BoB in the fall of Delve. I was D00M, Triumvate, Origin., Black Legion just to name a few.

No sir, I understand the game as fundamentally as possible :slight_smile:

Clearly you dear repliers are not understanding the game. Skill injectors favor established wealthy characters (like my old ones), not the new ones, unless they slave 40h/week like a full-time job.

No one is suggesting to fly a titan on day 1. On the other hand,I tried to convert all my friends and brothers to play EVE, all them are avid gamers. Not not a single one became a player. Always due to the ridiculous time investment required.

You are not even the target of this post. Clearly you are from the small percentage who tried EVE and remained. The vast majority of new players join with excitement, quickly get frustrated, when they find out they have to train for years just to be adequate, and quit.


(CowRocket Void) #8

Eve is not a game with instant gratification, and it should never be. Part of Eves problem is its too easy to get into ships you have no business flying.


(Chocolate Pickle) #9

OP, you’re much older now and your priorities have changed. You’re no longer the right sort of person for Eve. There’s no shame in this - it’s simply a statement of fact.


(Taruk Maktar) #10

Not sure you guys are really paying attention to what the OP is saying. Player retention in online MMOs is the nightmare that makes 90% of the games fail in the first 3 quarters. I’ve worked in the industry for 10 years and every move the developers make has to be focused both on “keep the old whales” and “keep the 1-week old players from leaving”. EVE’s approach to that is to reward only the long-game. The new players see a massive wall of time consumption and think… “humm… a space game that takes me 3 months to enjoy or play Kerbal and have fun immediately?”. This literally tells them to fork up some cash for PLEX/SIs or it will take them 3 months to actually have some fun without feeling the grind.

Take WoW for example. Each expansion brings back the old players for 2 to 3 months. But the new players, if they grid hard, can access massively entertaining content in 2 weeks tops. End-game content in 4 weeks. That makes the argument of “grinding”, valid. It pays off. For EvE to pay off and for a player to actually enjoy advanced content you need at least 6 months without using real cash. And those 6 months will only get you on a medium level.

Endgame content should not be available to a new player in the first hours but it should not take him 6 months also. The issue is that in EVE there is no middle ground. You need at least 3 to 4 months of skills to decently run Level 4s, WH, 0.0, etc… The new player adds up the skill time and sees “3 months”. He turns away.

Old players will see this as a “work hard and it will pay off” but CCP needs to address the fact that if there are not enough new players keeping to the game, it will eventually shut down.


(Keno Skir) #11

No, you clearly don’t. Having been in some old corps does not mean you understand the game when you’re throwing around wildly inaccurate conjecture to support a moot point.

Small skill injectors are currently 165 Million ISK if you shop around, this is not “40h/week like a full-time job”, it is actually the same price or cheaper than the average battleship hull cost. I personally know many new players in Nul who can make the ISK for several of these a week with a couple hours play a night. Hisec is harder but once again 165 Million ISK is easily acheivable as an occasional training boost in the early months.


(CCP Phantom) #12

This is an interesting discussion. Thank you, @Elarian_Francis, for taking your time and writing such a detailed post.

The replies are also valuable, thank you!


(Boldly Gone) #13

First of all: I like the accurate way of structure in your post, thank you!
I can’t subscribe to all points you mentioned, most parts are features, no bugs. But those two I quote I really like.

  • Gaining skillpoints: I’m a quite new player and have no clue if CCP didn’t already try it in the last two decades, but it would reward activity and sounds reasonable.

  • Every Newbie says it would be nice if Asteroids would shrink while mining. Doesn’t sound too complicated for a graphic design which renders every shadow…


(Don ZOLA) #14

You simply don`t have what it takes to play eve. Why blame the game for that?


(Akkadian) #15

@Taruk_Maktar

You are spot on, that is what my post is about!

@Keno_Skir it appears you still didn’t read [Who I really am]. You have to click the little triangle!

Let me put this in another way:

In addition to what’s in the spoiler there:

  • I created on my own 70 page excel spreadsheets that
  • pull all important data from the market
  • calculates my costs to manufacture every single sub-capital ship, and profit
  • cost and profit of every single component T2 ship component (manufactured from moon minerals)
  • which T1 components or ships I should buy and which one are more profitable to manufacture
  • including invention costs, blueprints, station fees
  • which decryptors to use based on current price/success/profit
  • pulls all data from my inventories, calculating what I already have and what I need to buy
  • time, net profit, profit/hour, profit/cost
  • all automated with just a few clicks!

I could go on, but an image is worth a thousand words, so here is a snapshot from 2013. Obviously it can’t pull data now because APIs have changed.

https://imgur.com/a/Vp8m6

These were some of the last entries in my Killboard:

And this is only half of 1 page out of 2 on the same engagement.

In any case, I don’t need to explain or prove myself to you or anyone, and it’s NOT my intention to brag, but to assure doubtful readers that I really know what I am talking about.

Due to my old experience I already understand the game and UI, so when I made a new character now I didn’t give up in frustration because I don’t understand the game, but because I experienced NPE from a new perspective.

The unnecessary complexity of the game is one reason EVE is failing to keep new players, but solving it is not enough. Even then, there is still the massive cliff of character progression that will deter new players.

I’ve said enough. If you are posting here then you’ve already crossed all those barriers and are dedicated enough to read and post on the forums. This post is meant for the game developers if they want to improve the game for new players.


(Don ZOLA) #16

If they were able to reach all content so fast majority would most likely fail due to lack of experience and quit even faster. You cannot make assumptions for whole player base on your own experience. Maybe you are genius who can play 23/7, others are not in same position?

Also, longer skill time on lvl5 actually works in favor of new players as they can catch up faster. Ie lvl5 compared to lvl 4 of some skill rarely gives more then 5% advantage while it takes much more time on its own than getting from lvl1 to lvl4.

Also, finishing longer skills and “growing” character gives them sense of accomplishment and creates stronger bonding of player with character/game.

If your assumptions were right, eve would never make it past first couple of years of launch as it was way harder game than it is now in every sense. Literally every single aspect of game was much tougher and yet people lasted through it.

So your lack of patience does not mean game is wrong, maybe it is just wrong game for you. Because if you were right, SISI would be loaded with players who want to have all content open way faster. And they would have everything they have on TQ - alliances, player base, wars, politics etc. So, try playing on SISI, maybe that is EVE:GO you are looking for?


(Sindara T'Soni) #17

I think many people wrongly expect to be able to do everything they want to do from day 1 in EVE and I can’t quite figure out why people who wouldn’t expect that in other games expect it in EVE.

I live in Rookie Help at the moment, helping new people as much as I can, and while not quite up there with ‘How do I skip the Tutorial’ or ‘How do I load ammo into my gun’ Rookies do seem to get upset on a fairly regular basis because they cannot do everything immediately.

Where is this a thing? In what games can you do this?

Is this a problem because in EVE it actually tells you how long you are going to have to wait? That would be my guess. That the transparency of ‘196 days before you can fly this ship’ is too much honesty for some people to cope with.

Like I asked already, where is being able to do everything immediately a thing?

As I told someone in Rookie Help the other day ‘In other MMOs this is like expecting to be able to use a level 80 sword when you are only level 20’. When I put it like that they said ‘fair point, that’s a good way to look at it actually, thank you’.

I have played just about every MMO on the planet (the big ones anyway) and you cannot join a raid group at level 1, you cannot kill a world boss at level 1, you cannot solo a top level dungeon at level 1, you cannot equip legendary weapons and armour at level 1 …etc. To be in a position to do so, takes … months.

So why is it a problem when EVE simply tells you exactly how many months it is going to take you?

Is the skill barrier / training time transparency it’s own worst enemy, and how else could it be done?

/shrug


(Keno Skir) #18

Not sure why you’re talking about Excel and linking pictures of your killboard, all those prove is that you know how to use Excel and have been in fleets and shot at who you’re told to shoot at.

A large part of your point was based on an incorrect declaration that training times are too long and skill injectors are too expensive. As it turns out skill injectors aren’t that expensive and your point is moot. Rather than reply directly to any of these points about skill injectors you prefer to talk about how you made a spreadsheet

Explain how 165M is impossible for newer players when they are all saving similar amounts of cash for hulls to mission with.

It is not, new players are well capable of generating ISK like that early on.


(Donnachadh) #19

Some responses to the OP.

25 years playing computer games, to steal a line from a country song “that don’t impress me much”. My first computer gaming experience was back in 1972 when this insignificant thing called PONG hit the bars, taverns and arcades of the day and I have been playing computer games ever since. To one degree or another I have been programming computer games since my friend purchased a Radio Shack TRS 80 back in early 1978. In fact based on CCP’s published average age of an EvE player I was probably playing computer games before you were born, so that must mean my opinion is worth more than yours. But you see outside of a computer gaming history class or some such thing none of this matters because each person has different expectations from their time spent with computer games and how long we have been playing or what our opinions are does not matter all that much. In essence this whole how long you or I have been playing computer games is nothing more than a variation on the whole mine is bigger and better than yours thing.

You complain about the time it takes to train skills and how that presents a barrier to new players enjoyment of the game, I have two responses to this.
One of the major reasons I started EvE in 2009 and still play today is the very thing you are complaining about, that it takes time to acquire new skills. I have very limited time every week I can use to play computer or other games which puts me at a distinct disadvantage character skills wise in virtually all of those other games. EvE was unique in that character skills were never a factor since it took everyone else essentially the same amount of time to train skills. And let’s not talk about skill injectors please because in my mind they were one of, if not the single worst thing CCP ever did to this game.

Another part is simply that you do not seem to be able to come to terms with is the role those new players give to themselves. They come into this game thinking they can have a pizza fueled weekend of drunk / high gaming and come out the other side with a fully leveled up end game character and when they cannot then they get upset and many of them leave the game. That is their problem and not a problem with the game, and EvE does not need to change to accommodate them.

Another problem I see all the time with new players is another carry over from their other gaming experiences and that is this idea that they are going to come in here and in a few short days or maybe a few weeks at most they will be swinging the biggest stick in the game and dominating everything and everyone they come across. Well that is not the way EvE works and when they discover this they get frustrated and quit instead of changing their expectations and again this is a problem with those players and not the game.

Veteran players are another factor you have not touched on. Often it is easier and faster for us as vets to do something ourselves with an alt, something that we can and should be giving to that new player to help them feel like they are involved and that their contributions to the corp are valid and worthwhile. Many vets think the best thing to do is throw ISK or ships etc at the new players and then let them go off and do whatever it is that new players do as long as you do not bother me. The reality is that new players are a lot like children in real life, spending time with them is the important thing not what you do while you are there.


(Memphis Baas) #20

I disagree that the complexity is “unnecessary”.

First of all, ships are roles (classes in other MMO’s), and if you try to train into “everything”, you’re building an account-full of all the possible “classes” that the game has to offer. Looking at SWTOR as an example (because there was incentive to play each class in that game, to see the story of each), taking one character to max level (geared) took 2-3 months, but taking all 8 possible characters to max level took 2 years. EVE is slower than that, but I certainly wouldn’t want it reduced to “all skills 5 in 3 months”.

Second, imagine the “all skills 5 in 3 months” scenario, then what? Either nobody’s going to trust such max level newbies with their fleet ops (due to awoxing), or (if the ships are also easy to get) all wars are going to be pointless jokes. Every other MMO loses players down to almost 0 after the 6 months it takes the masses to reach max level and “experience” the end-game raids and PVP. They have to put out new expansions to get everyone interested again, and they lose all the players again after about 3 months. EVE could not do that because CCP has 18-month breaks, and more importantly because the big (and small) alliances are the “content” generators, and I’m sorry but there’s a complete lethargy and lack of even trying to “create content.”

We’ve seen the effort during the brief period when Alphas were cool and everyone was trying to impress them, so it’s certainly possible. But there’s no incentive provided by CCP to actually create content; they desperately need us to, but they don’t reward any such effort. So every alliance or player group is reduced to the minimum effort required to make the alliance rich and protect its assets. What’s sad is that CCP wouldn’t even need to reward PLEX or cash or whatever; they could reward recognition, medals, writing the content creators into the game lore, etc…

Mittani - wouldn’t it really stroke his ego to have CCP officially give him a plaque (in-game or outside) if he does something.


(Xenos Monith Maulerant) #21

I definitely agree with your idea about obtaining skill points through completing activities. This gives pilots the motive to be undocked and create content.


(Shiloh Templeton) #22

I don’t think the divide is really “Old players vs New Players”, but rather “Large Null-Sec Groups vs Everyone else”.