EVE: Direction

Speaking only for myself, and no one else: we have a problem. A problem of direction, creativity, and understanding.

I love EVE. I have great friends in EVE. The direction the game has been heading for several years fundamentally shows a lack of creativity, engagement, and understanding of the player base. The changes announced in the dev blog yesterday were heralded as a resounding answer to the enforced austerity of scarcity, but it reads as a handful of config value tweaks, a handful of new modules, and new mechanics which make things more complex for the sake of complexity. This needed to be a slam dunk, and it was absolutely a lead balloon.

Give us exciting new mountains to climb, don’t just make things more tedious to do the same things we’ve always done. Raise the tide, don’t drain the bathtub we’re currently playing in.

We love this game. We want this game to thrive. It feels like CCP is slowly suffocating the game with lack of creativity and a belief that the existing player base will always stick around. I’d encourage you not to test that theory, but instead put the right people in charge of the game’s direction to ensure that people enjoy playing EVE, instead of weighing the sunk cost risk of quitting.

While I have lots of specific opinions, I don’t want to get into that here. The issue is not any one thing, or yesterday’s dev blog, or even the year-plus of scarcity. The problem is bigger than that; CCP is not showing a coherent philosophy of how to make the game more engaging or why someone might want to plan to be playing 3 years from now. The changes and patches over the last several years have significantly strained the trust that players have placed in CCP to get things right, shifted the aspirational goalposts for people with in-game goals, and made things significantly more complex without adding significantly more fun.

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I’ve said similar things myself.

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My question has always been how much is lack of leadership/vision and how much is reduced development resource/skill? Years into the discussion, I’ve come to the conclusion that CCP’s lack of cohesive development and leadership caused the development assets to be slowly reduced to a point where they may not actually be able to develop and deliver the gameplay being asked for by the players. Many of us may be asking for changes or additions that CCP is no longer capable of delivering to us.

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Nonsense! They added the logout feature, didn’t they?

Yet somehow they deliver all the changes that no one asked for. Dev power is there as they are more than capable to butcher the game with few big updates each year. Problem is that someone in CCP believe that is smarter than every EVE player. And all his ideas are only right solution and everyone else is wrong. Also, it’s hard to care about customers with assumption that no matter you do. They will come back eventually.

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Maybe CCP should reveal the “Letter from The Future”… but its only me saying that…

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Eve Direction:

Dead

and let it die!

Don’t you have a hole to control?

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BoB forgive a frigate show up in one of the holes.

… would gladly give all my likes to OP.

The whole situation also shows the very difficult circumstances under which the CSM is trying to operate as our representatives. Some dev teams give the CSM a deaf ear, while they should know better. EvE enjoyed its longevity because of player loyalty. Its entertainment value comes from what we, players, are able to do. These last two years have taken away part of that ability to make choices, and by the looks of it this path stretches into the future.

Props to the CSM for its continued effort in trying to get at least a few people at CCP listening. Hang in there, guys.

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I wanted to follow up on my original post because I’ve heard lots of great thoughts over the past few days, including a bunch of recurring themes. Again, I don’t want to get into specifics because people will nitpick over a particular point when the problem is one of vision and creativity…not a single problematic change.

First: Focus on fun. CCP needs to make a profit, and any dedicated EVE player who is being honest should want CCP to make money hand over fist. But so many recent changes seem to focus on quietly maintaining the prior status quo. Make EVE fun first, and revenue will follow. That doesn’t mean that everyone gets what they want, but it should mean that changes to the game should be met with excitement rather than dread. This is compounded by the fact that players very rarely get any insight into why changes are being made, or any sort of design philosophy for the game we’re heavily invested in. We love this game. Give us reasons to want to keep playing.

Second: Listen to the CSM. Or don’t. But if you’re generally not going to listen to them, disband the CSM. From everything we’ve heard from CSM members the vast majority of the contentious changes have been red-flagged by the CSM as “this is a bad idea”, but CCP has charged ahead, anyways. I fully understand that the CSM shouldn’t get an authoritative voice in game mechanics…but presumably they’re there for a reason and you shouldn’t dismiss their experience in avoiding big-picture trainwrecks. Some CSM members have been playing the game longer than the game designers have worked at CCP. Consider their experience before discarding it.

Third: Stop removing playstyles and nerfing the emergent content that people are finding fun in. This is a restating of a point from my first post. It appears that CCP continues to try to cram emergent gameplay from the last decade back into a box shaped like 2012 EVE. There is obviously a grey area, and some things need to be removed to ensure that one person’s fun doesn’t disproportionately prohibit others from having fun. But stop slapping us on the wrist and telling us what we’re doing isn’t what you wanted. Give us new, exciting, fun things to do in the game, rather than removing the fun we’re already having.

Fourth: If resources are a problem, find new ways to channel those resources rather than upending the entire player-driven economy and removing playstyles in service of returning to the economy of a decade ago. If a ship is fundamentally a problem, give it a new role that values invested SP without ripping the rug out from under an entire segment of the game. We’ve already seen CCP execute this once to positive effect with the carrier/FAX split. If there are too many resources, find new expensive things for us to spend resources on rather than kneecap everyone with forced austerity. If there are too many of X type of ships, introduce new (possibly very specialized) up-tier ships of type X that require us to consume those ships to build. Don’t be afraid to add entirely new resources, mechanics, or systems to support these new ships or playstyles. I suspect most players would much rather need to “do something new to try something new” than be told that the thing they are currently doing just became more tedious.

Fifth: For existing in-game systems, get comfortable with small tweaks rapidly iterated upon, rather than massive changes rolled out every few years. It seemed for a short while like Team Talos was doing this…but then it stopped. Many of the frustrations that players have over existing systems stem from the dramatic overnight buffing/nerfing of the status quo. If something is a problem, start making small changes immediately. Every week, tweak values by 2% instead of tweaking them by 200% every other year.

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Small rapid changes in eve are hard because everything is so tightly connected together and effects can take a long time to surface. But I’d love to see cooperative game iteration like we saw in-game with Pochven: the fact a new region was coming was a foregone conclusion, but players’ actions determined the timing and specific systems that made it up.

What if game design were similar? Show us the basic structure for a multi-year plan, but let players influence actual tweaks to implementation details. Eg the road map is for abyssal space, and players start doing it. But maybe “the pirates have been studying capsuleer ships and studying their weaknesses” as a way to nerf/buff the most/least commonly used ships. Or “The Blood Raiders have been detecting more capsuleer mining ships and have started attacking more often” as a way to add dread/carrier rats to moon fraks.

Give me a way to participate, have a meaningful impact on the universe, don’t rip out whole playstyles, and don’t add tedious complexity as a way to limit players.

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100% this. Couldn’t have said it better. Eve has been the gold standard I compare other MMOs and really any game to. It is so expansive, a real sandbox. You can trade, haul, mine, explore, PVP, do missions, not have to grind xp, etc. But the last couple years have seen a pretty gross decline in direction and understanding of what the game is and what the players want.

I have to question if any of the devs left are some of the old school devs, and if the new school devs even play the game. This latest brilliant idea for the mining changes is literally one of the most uncreative, not well thought out ideas I think I’ve seen since I joined in 2009.

The last few years have been full of updates that complicate the game for absolutely no reason other than to add complexity for the sake of complexity, which quite frankly is aweful and part of why I quit playing for well over a year. Ya, I tried to get back on a couple times, and really found that it was still going downhill.

It seems that the devs are simply pushing people into PVP, out of highsec, into more expensive ships, and are making industry just frustratingly annoying. This latest idea for an update shows that they do not understand miners or boosters or anything industry related. It is complexity for the sake of complexity to make it LOOK like they are doing something. Really I find it lazy and extremely boring.

I plead with the devs and CCP management to actually get to know the miners, try to actually understand every playstyle and how we could actually IMPROVE gameplay instead of just tweaking it into some useless garbage (waste on mining…literally the worst). No new player is going to stick around when the game is this complex and ridiculous. I thought Eve was in a great place about 5-6 years ago. It was fun, it was exciting, and CCP seemed to still care about the players. Honestly have to wonder how much of the lack of CCP care and understanding is caused from the sale to Pearl Abyss…

God I wish this game would come back. I would be back in a heartbeat, but for now, in this state, I just can’t bring myself to do it. I keep trying and trying, but this may be it for me.