The Dirty C Word

Why does an eleven-year-old EVE Character with 227M Skill points and several hundred Billion ISK decide to run Level Three missions in High Sec?

I can remark on not having run missions much for a while, and rarely for the Caldari. I can point out that Heavy Assault Cruisers are getting a rebalance soon and I thought I would fly one before and after. I can highlight the fact I have a nice skin I want to try for a Cerberus. I can remind you of the solo Astrahus build, and how through loot reprocessing and selling off salvage I can collect the Zydrine and Megacyte I need.

I can come up with so many reasons and explanations that the phrase “thou doth protest too much” comes to mind.

The reality is in normal circumstances my Character should really be doing more interesting high and end-game content. Building Super-carriers, flying Titans, running Alliances. (I do that last one already, but an Alliance of one doesn’t count.)

Circumstance is the key word – I can only play EVE Casually – with a capital C.

I talk about it all the time – but just what is a Casual EVE Player? Using the dictionary, the notion is towards an irregular, non-permanent player, possibly relaxed or unconcerned about the game. That definition doesn’t really work – that is a temporary participant in the game. A Casual EVE player can be around for years.

To me, a casual EVE player is one who cannot consistently and reliably invest time in playing the game. It doesn’t mean you are not interested, or passionate, or captivated by it.

When I started playing EVE I could spend an hour or two a night during the week, then several 2 to 4-hour sessions on the weekend. This survived the first few years with our first child. It allowed me to play a full, flexible and cooperative version of the game. After the arrival of our second child things changed. My free time dropped to an hour every other night, and a couple two-hour sessions on the weekend. While I could still play a comprehensive game, I found it awkward cooperating with other players. I had to lean towards solo play. As my kids got older, taxiing them to their separate nightly and weekend activities ate into and broke up my free time. Add challenging behavioural problems with our youngest, and now my free time to play EVE can be in just the occasional 30 minute block, and must be something I can walk away from at very short notice.

While I had plenty of time to adjust in my transition from full to casual player, I found the game did not really cater well for my time limitations. I preserved – helped I suspect by both my memories of what EVE can be and a dose of EVE OCD, but it hasn’t been easy.

I have watched many EVE players and bloggers go quiet over the last decade. A number were claimed due to financial reasons, or disinterest / boredom, or the departure of their friends, or conflict (with CCP or other players). Half – probably more – went for the RL > EVE equation. For lots that meant they did not have enough of that precious commodity of time.

I have believed for a long time that CCP could have kept lots of these players in game by better catering for the time poor. Surely this could be profitable? I’ve spent well over 20 years of subscription fees across my multiple accounts and various purchases of book and box sets from CCP.

Instead – they have pushed forward with a primary focus on group content that is difficult and time consuming for the casual player to coordinate, with game mechanisms that require you to be online for long or set periods of time.

When I was reading the CSM Summit notes the other day I was reminded – yet again – about how ill-informed the game’s influential players and CCP are when it comes to what Casual in EVE means. They think they know – but they show by their words and actions that they don’t.

I see small slivers of hope in such things as the addition of moon mining to Wormhole and 0.5 High Sec space, opening lite versions of end game content. While I wait for more, it is level 3 missions I will turn to this week.