EVE’s problems fall into five main categories.
- End-game stagnation
- (Stale) Content
- Balance - the argument in favour of 3rd party app integration
- Player retention
Development-bloat; 20 years of existence has led to coding and technological obsolescence (CCP are addressing this).
End-game bloat; EVE is gate kept by the skill queue, after 20 years the veteran community has finally matured past those hard limits and by means of skill farming, PI, Multi-box Rorqual Fleet Mining etc. has solved the META. Power has settled in the hands of an organised few, leading to stagnation. Extreme power (Veteran Domination) has made Null Bloc’s immobile and stagnant, similar to a Nuclear arms stand-off where the initiative is blunted by the consequences.
In stark contrast the NPE is facing a solved META, gate-kept by the skill-queue’s hard limits which dampens experimentation, exploration, and discoverability, the NPE therefor feels stagnant. The power dynamic in the eco-system is entrenched, from plankton to whales and nobody is truly satisfied with the recurring, monotonous, status-quo. Even the thrill of exploitation wares thin. CCP have tried to address this issue through scarcity however that was a manipulation of the levers that already exist in-game and no amount of in-game lever adjusting will adequately address the problem. (CCP are addressing this through the Photon UI, Mission nodes tech, and Faction Warfare updates- but it doesn’t quite tap the root cause- not quite, but is very close in theory)
Content; Continuing from the previous point domination of the game proper and the solving of the end-game META has created stagnation for veterans and stagnation for New Bros. New Bros are facing a solved META that locks them out from the opportunities for exploration and discoverability that players enjoyed during the earlier, formative-years of EVE, that made it challenging, exciting, unpredictable, and fun. Creating tools that give New Bro’s and Veterans a chance to explore their in-game personal and organisational customisation is an essential means of creating opportunities for content to naturally occur.
(Example: Veterans have attempted customisation through in-game New-Bro corporations, unfortunately these organisations have become the only means of advancement and therefor are endemic of the problem of stagnation, and the recurring, monotonous, status-quo).
There was a time when nobody had experience of Null space, no group had had a Null block war, no-one had built a Fortizar or a Keep Star or an Empire. That is no longer the case in fact those experiences are solved and their recurrence gate-kept by powerful established immobile entities.
- Balance; This is the most contentious and misunderstood of EVE’s problems. This is the issue where players focus is most often misaligned or is too narrow in scope. In terms of selecting CSM candidates this is the deciding factor and the factor about which communities are most often misguided.
Dynamic systems eventually find a levelling off point. The problem that EVE’s community and developers are encountering is that EVE’s balance point falls outside the game proper.
The solution requires the development of tools that give players and developers opportunities to create new content and play experiences in-game FULL STOP. Shovels and boots in-game.
In order for this to be possible the UI must be functional and clear. There needs to be opportunities for players to compete over how well calibrated their organisations are in terms of their position in the game and their changing circumstances as the positions of organisations and players around them change.
This needs to be true for each individual player and at each level of organised player interaction, that means at the level of capsuleer, corporation, alliance and coalition.
As it stands EVE’s UI, it’s corporation management tabs, it’s Industrial programs, it’s PI programs, it’s ship fitting programs etc, are failing to provide effective granular control. Players have responded to this in-game deficit through the development of 3rd party applications that give them more customised control and allow them an advantage over less developed organisations. For the natural balance point of EVE to fall in-game the CUSTOMISATION and ORGANISATIONAL power that these 3rd party apps provide needs to exist in-game FULL STOP.
Example: The new Skill Plans system, in terms of the individual AND corporation tabs, is a step in the direction of providing differentiated granular control at two different levels of organisational play.
Players need granular control over meaningful choices in all areas of their organisation and at all levels, from the level of self; the individual capsuleer, all the way through to coalitions, and they need the ability to manage how this information is shared (Example: Access Lists).
(Example: The proposed allegiance mechanic for Faction Warfare is a good implementation of a granular control that enables an effective customisation choice, it locks in one decision in one arena of play, without directly limiting participation in other arenas of play; it is meaningful customisation)
Example question (rhetorical): How is there NOT a thing for coalitions in-game. How long do players have to participate in coalitions before CCP clues in to the NEED for coalition creation and management as part of the built-in experience. CCP has dropped the ball on this.
Of all the factors that you could point to that might describe or define the biggest and most egregious deficit in EVE’s development, it’s most significant balance issue, it’s most glaring failure, none is more obvious or more pressing than the absence of an in-game tool for the forming and management of Coalitions.
It is so obviously the next step in EVE’s evolution as a ‘SAND-BOX’ ‘EMPIRE BUILDING’ simulation -A blind dog with no sense of smell could have discovered it.
Leaving it up to the players to build was the correct move; leaving it up to the players to maintain, was a mistake and a missed opportunity.
The players created it, you f-----g add it, then you check to see what they create next, then you add that.
The failure to keep up with the creativity of it’s player base has stagnated CCP’s development of EVE and ruined the balance that naturally forms in game.
Following from the development of a coalition management tool would be the development of a tool for managing corporation mining taxes. The fact the corporations have to limp along with complicated third party apps is a joke. Again CCP has dropped the ball. The community has solved the problem. It’s not game-play if the problem is well-defined and sufficiently solved. At the point at which it is solved it becomes a chore.
It’s not gameplay if the problem is well-defined and sufficiently solved. At the point at which it is sufficiently solved -by 3rd party intervention- it becomes a soulless chore.
In their desire to cultivate and maintain un-compromised player autonomy, CCP has over-reached, is failing, and has an obvious blind spot.
- Player retention. This is solved by addressing the previous issues.
Direct access-to and autonomy over the meaningful granular systems that already exist as auxiliary 3rd-party applications in the larger EVE eco-system will empower and entice players to stay in-game and to stay in-game.
Any CSM candidate who’s perspective on the game addresses these issues is a fine choice. Unfortunately players that focus on ship, mining, and industry balance, (all of which are in-and-of-themselves super important and relevant) have missed the larger point, they are just trying to solve the problem by adjusting the current levers, no amount of lever adjusting in the current system will prove adequate . Nothing that I am suggesting is REVOLUTIONARY, players have been desperately and dutifully developing these tools for years in order to make up for the short-falls in EVE’s design.
For better or worse, it has become necessary to integrate these granular controls from 3rd party developers into the game. They are essential to the continued functioning of the eco-system, they are force multipliers, they are essential balance points. Integrate these tools directly into the game where all players will have direct access to them.
The current community of 3rd party app developers will be relieved from duty, their time will be freed up and in-time the so-inclined will begin developing apps that fill whatever new gaps emerge in the system. The game has stagnated because CCP has not kept up with including what is obviously, -effectively and competitively- required to play its game.
While CCP may be limited in it’s in-house development potential, it has had effective active developers active out-of-house in the community the entire time. In EVE spreadsheets are force multipliers. The veteran community knows this and CCP has failed to properly include and integrate these powerful contributing variables under their direct control - where they can be properly balanced. (Clarification: the integration of Excel is a very small step in this direction)
Failure to integrate the functionality of 3rd party apps may have been a well-intentioned decision but it is one that has cost CCP it’s balancing power.
To be fair, it may just have been a case of; ‘Well, that exists already as a 3rd party app, so let’s let them keep doing that while we focus else where’ which as the game has matured has had unfortunate consequences in terms of the location of the balance of power and the levers that control it.
The result is that to play EVE you have to have at least a dozen other programs, Pyfa, Dotlan, ZKillboard, JeveAssets, Gatecamp, Google sheets etc etc etc, to name but a few.
The reliance on 3rd party applications is prohibiting an equal chance amongst the player base.
EVE shouldn’t be fair, but no rational person agrees to a game where they can not expect a fighting chance. EVE’s appeal hinges on the promise that if you keep trying you will succeed, it’s stops becoming interesting when that stops being true. If part of the player base has control over or knowledge of vital 3rd party tools, that stops being true.
For a New Bro there’s a glut of essential tools that have to be researched outside the game at the same time that they’re learning and experiencing the enormity of EVE for the first time.
For vets it is a problem that has been solved and one that has become a chore and a stopping-block for more nuanced, future, in-game development, and power advancement. It is directly responsible for the continuing stagnant game state, as CCP is forced to balance around an external levelling off point about which is has no immediate or direct control.
3rd party apps are force multipliers. They give an advantage to those who create, maintain and control them, in many cases they are essential to the success of the players that employ them. They can be likened to legal exploits. In the case of EVE they are essential to the functioning of it’s ecosystem. Which means that they are essential to it’s balance and cannot be removed without devastating the eco-system.
Just do the right thing pay these developers out, include their s–t in the game and provide for the community what it needs for the game to evolve. Watch what happens to EVE once these chores are made meaningful and useful again. Proper in-game granular control at every level of organisation from the autonomous capsuleer through to coalitions.
Example: Imagine if coalitions had to commit to a formal agreement that locked them in over a contracted period of time at some meaningful but significant financial cost and provided them some benefit. Perhaps an industry boost, or resource acquisition boost, or sovereignty boost across their alliances. The risk is the locked-in time commitment and cost and the possibility of having their benefit discovered by spies and a counter strategy employed by their rivals. The benefit is whatever granular element they’ve customised within their contractual agreement. Depending on the coalitions objective, territorial expansion, defence, production, market domination etc. The point is that what is missing are the tools that would enable this dynamic play. (The changes to Faction Warfare may be the beginning of this change-time will tell)
WOW has integrated the best of it’s 3rd party apps. It’s time that EVE grows up, pays it respects $$$ and does the same.
Hopefully the community, CSM candidates, CCP (even) can get us part of the way there OR god forbid, all of the way there.
EDITED: for clarity based on feedback and better use of the posting tools. We must evolve and that includes me.
There’s a very simple way to test whether my claims about the power and importance of 3rd party applications is accurate.
“Switch off the API watch what happens.”
Leave it off for a month and watch what happens. Check and see how the game functions without access to these systems. Then assess whether they are in fact force multipliers. If the answer is yes then the notion that the use of 3rd party apps is essential to the competitiveness of the player base that employs it is true and my claim is correct and CCP therefor cannot possibly balance the game internally when the balance of power lies external to it’s domain of control.
As stated in my post, failure to integrate 3rd party applications into EVE proper may have been a well intentioned decision but it has cost them their power and they are paying for it now.
The power of a free market is in part due to it’s faceless destruction of redundant entities, if third party apps were innocuous they’d have died in obscurity. Instead they are the go to of every serious player. They cost time and energy to mantain and yet they are as prosperous as ever.
The problem with trying to address balance by means of ship, module, industry, mining, POS rebalance etc. is two fold, first EVE is not Paper, Scissor, Rock, the community will always find a counter play, second it only addresses a portion of the factors that contribute to the power base of EVE, the rest of the relevant contributing variables lie outside of the game and are perhaps the most dominant of all, they are the intel and organisational tools that make large organisational control possible. If CCP wishes to balance them, they must include them.