Good day, Capsuleers!
Today I’d like to discuss the current state of the Proving Grounda and why I think that they completely betray the reasons they were created in the first place, and even worse that they are a complete backward step from the original Proving Grounds.
To put it simply, CCP has removed a moderately accessible, short-session friendly, and community-building activity, to replace it with an heavily dependent-on-others, time intensive, and private club activity.
A simple example of that, the accessibility. The previous Proving Grounds asked for a solo pilot to go through 3 Abyssal pockets before accessing the Proving Gate that would lead them to the Proving Ground. The sole requirement was making it through the third pocket. And then you’d directly enter the Proving Grounds and if an opponent was there already, you’d get a fight, if not you’d get loot and a run. You were not dependent on the matchmaking.
Now let’s do a little exercise, let’s go back to what were the goals of the Proving Grounds as initially stated by CCP and examine them in light of my observation.
- Many pilots want the ability to enter the Proving Grounds directly instead of being required to complete an Abyssal Deadspace run first.
Well, they got what they wanted. But now the Proving Grounds are chained to a matchmaking system that makes them dependent on a population. And from my own experience, that population is becoming more and more select as events go on.
So where we had a system that allowed you to do a run whenever you wanted (during population times) and get content, either it was a completed (or failed) run or a fight, now we have a system that ask you to wait and can result in you not getting anything at all.
- We have also heard that the existing Abyssal Proving Grounds meta has been “solved.”
Sure that was true, the Ikitursa was the solution to this meta, without a doubt.
Yet people managed to beat Ikitursas from time to time, a bad pilot in a Ikitursa would just transform into a juicy killmail when faced against a skilled pilot even in a T1 or Faction cruiser.
Now, even though the meta had been solved, I do not think the solution was simply to make it so that there is no meta at all!
Pretty much, the solution to that that CCP came up with is to spring up a totally new format every event to never have a meta, and even worse, to not give enough time for people to figure out a meta!
An event with a particular format only lasting one weekend is pretty much forcing people to forget about the meta, and then get rethrusted into another one a few weeks later.
The solution to a meta was certainly not to not have a sitting meta. The solution to a meta is obviously throw new elements that shake up that meta, not unravel it each and every time!
- We have also received quite a few requests from players who would like to compete in Proving Grounds style PVP engagements with their friends
Sure, I was among those people who wanted a place where you could do tournaments-style match with people you know. But I wanted that because I wanted a community to form with people recognizing each other and offering each other matches, like it was with the previous Proving Grounds!!!
The Abyssal Community channels in the game are well known for being a great example of a community arising from a common activity, and the previous iteration of the Proving Grounds participated in creating such a community! The PRIMARY reason why we have a new CSM member arising from this community is because this one was a community that created content and opened up people to that content.
The current iteration of the Proving Grounds fail horribly at that. And I take as an example the fact that the same place that used to be used to arrange fights, to boast about said fights and banter at each other is now barely capable of even being used to arrange teams and rarely see talks anymore. You guys can see for yourselves in-game by joining those channels, in particular “Abyssal Arenas”, and see how dead they are PvP-wise even during the events.
The time limited availability of the Grounds, and the instauration of ranking are heavily to blame for that. Whatever groups or friends you’d made during an event was not guarranteed to be available several weeks later. And rankings obviously encourage people to stick with each others instead of reaching out to less skilled pilots.
My hope was that Corportations and Alliances would form around that new activity, around the Proving Grounds.
But how can you build a corp around a feature that is available only from time to time? What is the corp supposed to do during that time? PvE Runs???
It’d think that CCP would realize that, with their mention of how EVE helps people form bonds and fight solitude, that a feature in this game ought to be able to create and nurture corporations and/or alliances!
And at that, the current Proving Grounds fail miserably!
- Finally, we have heard from players that the system for finding opponents could do with some improvements.
Yes, it could be frustrating to come up against someone who has put more ISKs into his Ikitursa than you have seen on your account. But it was perfectly fitting with what EVE is about. That guy being able to do that mean that one day you could be the one dunking on noobs with your trillion ISKs Ikitursa and pod.
Introducing Matchmaking and T2 limitations made it easier to find skill-appropriate opponents, but it also destroyed the ladder that the activity provided to people as a reason to get ISK (or better organisation). Now what we have is a Ranking, and if you have seen the kind of state a Ranking puts people in other games, it’s not pretty.
More importantly, at least with the ISK game if you managed to beat that higher “ranked” guy, you not only set him back, but you racked in an awesome reward through his loot and killmail!!
That pretty much eliminates the balancing factor that EVE was built around, ISK, out of this activity. And that for the sake of an accessibility that is not even helped by the rest of the features this Proving Grounds was built around.
If we take those points one by one, the current Proving Grounds failed at:
- Being a short-session friendly activity. The current Proving Grounds tie you to Matchmaking and Teammates searching.
- Being a commuity-building activity. The current Proving Grounds do not last enough and are not reliable enough to build a community around.
- Being accessible. The T2 limitations do not help when you only have a couple of days to enjoy the fights and during those days if you are ■■■■■■ by the population you have just wasted your gaming nights.
All-around, I see the current implementations as an absolute failure, whose sole possible saving grace is being a test for the different possible formats and the kind of events possible around the feature (the changes to the arena for the Winter Nexus were awesome).
From what I see, the current iterations needs the following things to be saved and not end up as yet another feature like Ressources Wars where “they have tried everything to make it work”:
- Stop the format changing, choose one, two, or three formats and let people organise themselves around those. Look at the most popular formats and make them fixtures or at least make them last long enough so that people can actually build their communities or lives around them.
- Do away with the event format, the Proving Grounds should be available ALL the time, when someone feels like having some PvP and is limited on time, that was the intended purpose of those, have you forgot??
- Do away with the T2 limitations, give less rewards to the winner and more rewards through indirect means (either through the number of runs done, or though challenges in the Grounds), make it more profitable to down a blingy and powerful opponent.
This feature has been given enough time to come to a conclusion about whether peple enjoy it or not under its current form, and personally, after participating in it and observing it for long enough, my feedback is that if it continues in its current form, the feature will become extremely unpopular before the end of the year.
That is it. Thank you for your time.