BB80 – Who is listening to who?

BB80 – CCP Seagull encourages everyone to get involved in CSM12. Blogger Neville Smit noted that CSM11 had done a good job with minimum drama, but with only 10 seats available in CSM12 the Null Sec power-blocs will likely take them all. Is he right and will it be a good or bad thing?

I liked the concept of the CSM. I thought it could engage the player base, channel good ideas into CCP, and filter out some of their bad ideas. I remained optimistic for a long time, but that is no longer the case. I think I was pretty naive.

To me the mechanism never seemed to live up to its potential. The CSM members often lacked the personality or skills to be effective advocates.  EVE Players attacked their own representatives and gamed and damaged the systems that had been put in place. CCP already seemed set in the direction they wanted to take the game, and only really gave lip service to the CSM.

I assume this lack of impact or influence helped fuel the apparent adversarial relationship between the CSM and CCP.

Even given my perception, I still got value out of the CSM. I liked the flow of information it prompted, both on updates in the pipeline and the general discussion on feature ideas and impacts. In particular, I have read all CSM Summit meeting notes from cover to cover. I could still generally find something to be excited about, and thank the CSM process for the heads up.

In the CSM11 Summit notes I was struck by how much more cordial the relationship seemed between the CSM and CCP. Some years you could feel the palpable friction, but not with CSM11. It seemed so much more productive.

Why? The largest part of CSM11 were Null Sec representatives. Have they been able to marshal the considerable resources of their Alliances to be more organised, professional and influential? Did Null Sec put forward the best of themselves? Did they do a better job of persuading CCP towards their ideas? It seems logical from previous year results that most of the top 10 winners in CSM12 will be from Null Sec. I think Neville will be right in that regard. Does it matter? Might it even be favorable?

Reading the last Summit notes I think the answer became more apparent. There were disagreements and hard questions from the CSM to CCP, must mostly I got the impression they were on the same wavelength.

Was this because CCP suddenly became more flexible in the direction they were taking the game? Did CSM11 feel happier because they were more influential? Or – was it that CSM11 agreed more with what CCP was already doing? I have felt for some years that CCP is focused on a type of conflict in game which makes it easier for the stronger to crush the weaker. The sort of changes the powerful Null Sec groups are more likely to be happier with.

I don’t think it really matters what happens with CSM12. CCP will do what they already planned to do, and the only difference will be the facade cast over the CSM12 term. It will appear productive if they agree with CCP, unproductive if they don’t.

Other Blog Banter posts on this topic can be found here.

BB79 – Go long

BB78Should CCP put effort in to reward long term loyal customers? Is this lack of gratitude towards loyal customers alienating? Do people wish for a change here? Is it too self-righteous to expect small signs of gratitude for being a loyal customer? Or is it just a case of there is no need and HTFU snowflake?

For quite a while l liked the idea of some special memento or similar to acknowledge in game the number of years someone has been playing EVE.

Nothing that can be monetarised. A POD or ship skin that is automatically injected, or medals you can choose to show or not, maybe access to some unique station without services or an unusual system that has no resources you can take. Some sort of official acknowledgement of the longevity with a cool novelty factor but otherwise no impact on the game.

When I first heard such suggestions it seemed to be readily supported. With time however now I hear just as many dissenters. It wouldn’t be fair on younger players, or new players; old players already have too many toys, we would need to ensure it only went to active players not just those who pay their subscriptions, and so on.

I must have missed the in-game release of the new Super Capital “EVE is Fair”.

Just make it very simple – add up the time an account is active (either paid or through PLEX), and when they reach milestone years give some sort of token to the highest SP character on the account. It doesn’t matter if they spent the entire time AFK, or constantly generated in game content, they have been around and financially contributing to the running of the game. Let them feel like a special little snowflake for a few minutes. Let them stop and reflect on how many years they have wasted.

Do I think this is really necessary?  No.  Do I think it might encourage people to stay subscribed for longer?  I doubt it.  Then why?  It is one more little bit of cool or interest added to the game, which some players will get a kick out of and enjoy.

Other Blog Banter posts on this topic can be found here.

BB78 – The more things change, the more they stay the same

BB78Suspend disbelief for a moment and imagine that at downtime today CCP reset everything in EVE Online. Everything! All player structures, PI infrastructure, Corps, Alliances gone. The Markets empty but for NPC seeded items like BPO. All players log into a starter system with less than 1M SP, a mere 5,000 ISK and a noob ship. What happens now?

I started out thinking about the immediate effect of such a thing.

What impact would it have on CCP’s financials?  There would be very strong demands for compensation.  There would be players who quit.  PLEX would not be purchased to be sold on the market for a while as no one would have a reasonable amount of ISK to buy them with. How much time would they have to spend fixing any design issues – the chicken before the egg scenarios where items or structures cannot be built because they rely on something that relies on them being built. What sort of balancing changes might be needed to allow – at least temporarily, for completely different skill levels and ship fit metas?

What impact would it have on players? Their sense of loss, frustration, anger. What a large adjustment for previously wealthy players on old money – who hadn’t needed to earn ISK for years. How long would it take big traders to have enough volume to start making inroads into recovering their wealth? Would miners and industrialists have a golden period of demand, and how long would it last?

I thought about what would not change? Ganking would be immediately viable, and pirating soon after. New players wouldn’t really notice aside from the poorer markets and less larger ships flying around.

I thought about how important existing knowledge would be – the advantage people would have for knowing what skills to train first, the best ways to gather resources and bounties and so on. Would those with multiple accounts use some for SP farming, not to sell, but to advance their mains more quickly against their opponents?

What about for me? I’d probably be able to continue to get the same sorts of rewards out of playing the game as I do now, and I would have the knowledge and doggedness to slowly recover from such an event.

As I did this, two key points kept coming up in my thought process.

First, there would be an arms race and land grab that would be dominated by groups who already had the out of game infrastructure to coordinate and mobilise their players. They would work together to mine and collect bounties, purchase group hull, weapon and infrastructure BPO quicker than anyone else. Yes, there would be changes to the political landscape, but generally the same sort of people and groups that control null sec now would control null sec then, and the smaller groups would in time be left with the same limited options as they have now.  In many ways it would nerf or impact the solo and casual player more harshly.

Second – I kept using the term recovery. Some people might change the way they play the game, but for the most part it would be about restoring where they were at previously. In the long run, I strongly suspect something like this would cause no real fundamental change to the game.

If these two thoughts are correct, why would you bother resetting the game?  For real change, CCP needs to adjust the rules or update or add sandbox tools.

Other Blog Banter posts on this topic can be found here


BB73 – The Wide World of EVE

BB73With EVE, Valkyrie, Gunjack and the sometime in future DUST replacement, is there any other area CCP should be looking to expand the EVE universe into?

I am not sure it is appropriate to ask this question yet. EVE will be turning 13 in May this year. Across all those years CCP has only really managed to expand the EVE universe into an about to be shut down and barely successful console first person shooter, DUST 514.

If you were feeling generous you might also add walking in Captain Quarters. That is however probably best left unsaid.

Sure Gunjack and Valkyrie will soon be in the hands of early VR adopters. It might bring CCP great success. But that requires enough people to buy into the hardware, and for CCP to get the games just right for this new and untested market. It seems premature to classify these as a real part of the EVE universe just yet.

The same goes for the DUST 514 PC replacement – which we have sparse details on.

While I commend CCP for trying to ensure they are not reliant on just one income stream, they have spent a lot of time (and I expect money) on expanding the EVE universe, but so far without notable success.

At this point I don’t think CCP should be looking to add any new games – I expect they will be too busy focusing on juggling their current developments.

The only “out of EVE Client” work I would like to see at the moment is a portal app for iOS and then Android. Allow us to read and send EVE Mails, update market orders, and even do Planetary Interaction on a tablet. Give us the option to keep connected to the game between running the full client.  That’s not really an answer to the BB question – but I didn’t just want to write “No”, and leave it at that.

Other Blog Banter posts on this topic can be found here

BB71 – The Harbour Crush

BB71 – Are there too many Ships in EVE? Is it too complicated to remember them all and what their traits are?

Earlier on in EVE ships (and modules) were generally Tier based. The higher the tier, the more effective (and expensive) it was. This linear approach was easy enough to understand and keep track of, but inherently hurt newer players with less SP and ISK, and meant lots of lower tier ships had little use other than a short term stepping stone.

I’m not entirely sure about the timeline, but I think from around early 2012 within the Crucible releases CCP started on a process called Tiericide. In effect it was the removal of these linear tiers, and replacing them with groups of hulls with distinct roles. These were balanced through different strengthens and weaknesses into a complicated game of rock, paper, scissors. While some are more niche than others, almost every hull in game now has a use.

(This Tiericide process is still ongoing.)

It is still possible to have tiers of power within a role – with a mix or all of T1, Faction, T2 and T3 Hull versions available. It is not always however a straight forward step up through these Hulls. Some are more powerful in certain niche circumstances, but weaker in others.

During this same time frame CCP has added new hulls to the game, sometimes filling in gaps, sometimes adding completely new roles.

I don’t doubt that this has made EVE a more complicated game for solo and small gang PVPers, particularly those who roam long distances. It is harder to identify ships, understand the appropriate tactics to use against them, and maintain a suitable mix of ships in your hanger to allow you to maximise what you can counter.

Do I think this is a problem? No. I think it is a glorious thing. It has made space a more complicated and vibrant place.

While that answers the BB question, I don’t think the situation is all a bed of roses.

Trying to balance so many hulls and roles would be very difficult. I think in most circumstances CCP have done an amazing job of it, but it seems to have come at a cost. Personally I have felt the Tiericide process has pushed players towards more cookie cutter role related fits. While it is still possible to surprise others through smart and unique ways of fitting a hull, it is not as easy to do it well. I can understand the necessity, but I read multiple bloggers who when they undock can pretty much preordain which fights they will win, which fights they must run from, and which fights will be close. It might be a complicated version, but a game of rock, paper, scissors will still become boring.

Sometimes I think there is only an illusion of choice. When you really sit down and look at what role you want or need to fill, you can end up with only a very limited number of options. It is also true if you want a more Generalist or Jack or All trades hull. It just takes you longer to go through all the hulls available to come to that realisation.

Obviously it is also a steeper learning curve for new players, and more difficult to keep on top of for established players. It also requires more effort to collect and maintain the ships you store in your hangers.

Having said all that – it has still made for a better game than what we had when we had less, tier based hulls.

Other Blog Banter posts on this topic can be found here

BB70 – I’ve been good this year

BB 70 – Dear CCP Santa, All I want for my EVE Christmas is..

A variety of things flew across my mind when I first saw this Blog Banter – a reason for me to use the Rorqual, a reason to use the Bowhead, a reason to open the captain’s quarters, or any one of the dozens of things I’ve mentioned over the years in this blog.

But in the end it came down to a simple and oft repeated request. I would like more tabs for my overview. Please. I know it should be possible – there were ways you could do it yourself in earlier years.


If CCP Santa thought I was really good this year, I wouldn’t mind also being able to colour code the overview tabs. Again I know that is possible as I see other players doing it on YouTube videos. It would be nice if it was supported within the client.

*EDIT* This is actually easy enough to do – Google is your friend.  You just use the HTML color tag around the tab names.  You can also use bold, italic and underline, possibly more.

Last of all, if CCP Santa thought I was really, really good this year, I wouldn’t mind the notion of inheritance being introduced to Tab Presets. Currently it is painful maintaining every tab preset individually, such as when new ships are introduced. It would be nice to be able to set up a template which other tabs automatically inherit from, so that for things I want to see on every tab, I only need to make the change once.


Wishing you a merry EVEmas.

Other Blog Banter posts on this topic can be found here

BB68 – The Hermit Cave

BB 68 – How do you play your important internet spaceships game? On a laptop, 12 monitor setup, 50” TV, amongst the family or locked away?


I live in Melbourne, Australia.  Unsurprisingly I play EVE in a Hermit Cave. My study door is kept closed to dull the noise from the family and keep the cats out. When I play I hunker down behind a couple large screens and attempt to hide from my reality and responsibilities.


My desk is positioned to allow me to watch TV while playing EVE, and to split my attention between the screen and my wife when she pops her head through the door. Well – that was the intention. It sometimes works if she is just asking if I would like a cup of tea. More often however she appears to order me to do something out of my study, or she comes and stands next to my desk, forcing me to turn the chair to face her. In both scenarios I can’t watch my EVE session. If it is not her, it is the kids. As such I generally prefer to play EVE when I am the only one home, or everyone else has gone to bed.


I run EVE on a custom built i7-3770, with 32GB Ram, SSD, Dual GTX 680, Dual Samsung 28” 4K Monitors and Windows 10. I generally use Logitech game keyboards – currently the mechanical G710+, and Steelseries Mouse.

When travelling or as a backup, I run EVE on a MSI GS60 3K Ghost Pro laptop, which has an i7-4710HQ, 16GB Ram, SSD, GTX870M, 15.6” 3K Screen and Windows 10. I can use my desktop keyboard and mouse to control the laptop via Stardock’s Multiplicity, so can use that as a third screen.

Neither are cutting edge anymore, but can run both my accounts (on the desktop in a 3000×1800 window) without issue.


I find EVE a frustrating game to play if I get interruptions. It is much more immersive when I can cocoon myself away, open my clients, open my EVE tools such as Excel, EFT and DOTLAN, and just lose myself in it. I suspect if I had more social interactions through the game that this sort of setup might be less important, but as it is, it seems to help me enjoy my solo style of play.

My study is my equivalent of a man cave. While I don’t spend as much on technology as I did before kids, the room is set up relatively nicely.  My wife generally takes the view that as I work from home and can spend 12+ hours a day in the room, it is appropriate to spend money setting it up properly.  I don’t go crazy with my purchases, but over the space of 15 odd years it has slowly been upgraded and improved to the point where it is a nice place to spend time.

Other Blog Banter posts  on this topic can be found here.

BB67 – I am CCP Hermit

BB 62 – There has been a catastrophic accident in the CCP Offices and you have found your player account has been upgraded to a senior CCP staffer! You are now CCP Hermit and have a team of developers eagerly awaiting your commands. So what are you going to have your team work on?

For obvious reasons if you follow this blog, I am going to focus on the niche of solo or small group exploration and nomadic movement.

I would like to dramatically increase the available exploration content, starting with the ideas in this list which are relatively easy and quick to implement before moving onto the harder options. They should fall into the category of sites or cosmic anomalies as appropriate.

The idea is to increase variety and mix up the ship hull and fitting options people might use or carry around during exploration. It is not to homogenise space or making Hi-Sec so interesting that you don’t want to move. The rewards from these sites and the frequency they can be found should be balanced and scaled.

Now the site ideas:

. Upsized Rats – on occasion find a solo NPC Battleship with a bounty of 500K in High-Sec, 1000K in Low-Sec, or 1500K in Null Sec. Mix it up with occasional doubles or triples (more commonly out of Hi-Sec), and small support wings.

. Out of place Rats – on occasion find a small group of NPC ships out of their usual Regions, such as Guristas in Sansha space, or Serpentis in Blood Raider. You might just use their version of the standard cosmic anomaly.

. Entirely out of place Rats – on occasion find a small group of Sleepers or Incursion rats.  The later would just give a small number of LP as reward.  (I wouldn’t mind seeing solo options added to Incursions – for simplicity maybe just having clearing Incursion rats from belts giving you minor LP rewards when the incursion is finished.  The rewards would only be a small fraction of running the proper sites – this is more just for variety.)

. Out of place resources – on occasion find 1-3 Asteroids in a mini-field in an area where you would not normally find them – so a single Mercoxit or a couple small Arkonor asteroids in High Sec. Consider mini Gas sites.  These sites should be small and not worth a great deal – it is more for variety.

. NPC Convoy Ambushes – you warp in on an NPC hauler with a number of guards. Consider these to be like Hauler spawns but they carry a much wider range of goods. The difference here is that these Convoys will warp away. You need to quickly lock a ship and warp disrupt it, then force the guards off before you find what loot it might be carrying.  This mechanism (having to scramble rats) could be implemented in multiple areas.

. Burner NPC sites – in effect small exploration sites that mimic Burner Missions with very difficult rats.

. Hidden NPC structures doing moon harvesting or reactions which you can place siphon units on to steal small volumes of goods. You possibly need to remove defenders or defensive weaponry. Have them only last a day or two before they are pulled down by the NPCs.

. Hidden NPC structures that you need to use Entosis links on. I’m not sure on the specifics of these – maybe listening or scanning arrays that you need to put through a number of defended reinforcement stages and get a bounty from Concord if you destroy them.

. Have a rare COSMOS type site which drops COSMOS type ingredients

. Have a rare COSMOS agent. They offer up 3 or 4 quests to any pilot who asks. However only the first to hand in a quest gets the reward and that quest is dropped as an option from the agent. The Agent disappears once all their missions are done or completed. These could be tied into the current COSMOS sites or be new / different ingredients.

I expect there would be many more viable options.  It think the feeling of exploration would be increased if you had a lot more different sites to come across.

Next are movement ideas:

. Smuggler Gates – an old topic for me. These are temporary NPC gates you have to scan down. These should last longer than normal locations – a week give or take a day. Generally Hi-Sec Smuggler Gates will go to neighbouring Low Sec areas, and Low Sec to Null Sec. They will reliably only connect to bordering zones or regions – so if you search Derelik Low Sec you might find Smuggler gates into Great Wildlands, Curse or Providence. This is one way of bypassing normal Gate bottlenecks. Either you need to pay the pirates operating these gates to pass, or destroy the guards and sentries to pass, or use Hacking or Entosis modules. In addition – these Gates can also be destroyed via DPS. Find a Smuggler Gate into your Null Sec constellation? Drop a small fleet on it and blow it up.

. Introduce a new class of ships somewhere between a Nestor and Orca. These would be Mobile Exploration bases you take with you on long roams. I’m thinking a Ship Maintenance bay of around 150,000m3, a Fleet Hanger of 10,000m3, an Ore hold, no offensive modules aside a couple flights of drones, and remote repair bonuses. Maybe even a bonus to movement under cloak. An Explorer would move around with a small selection of ships they can swap in and out of to run different sites.

. Allow jump clones to be moved in ships and stored in the same locations. Either move them in a new class of ships, or simply have a container they can be stored in and carried as cargo. Allow a much shorter jump clone timer if you swap within the same station. Maybe give the Mobile exploration base above a clone hold and reduction bonuses to the time you have to wait between clone changes.

I expect that should keep my development team busy for a while.

Other posts can be found here.

BB62 – Incarcerated wishes

BB 62 – What is and/or should be the future for walking in stations?

I am not sure what EVE players really think about walking in stations. Oh – I know what the loudest and more forceful EVE players think, and they tend to be against it. I am not really sure about the remaining majority. I wonder what CCP’s survey and poll data shows?

The basic mechanics of walking in stations seemed ok – visually it looked ok, the way you could interact with the environment was ok, and you could sort of imagine your avatar living in such a place. It wasn’t earth shattering, but it was a starting point that CCP could have grown from.

Let’s change history. Let’s assume CCP didn’t make a hash of the implementation. They didn’t force all players to use the Captain Quarters, and they kept working on subsequent features.

It is June 2011. You log in after the Incarna release to see your usual hanger bay view – but with a new icon in the top right corner to enter your Captain Quarters. You enter, spend 20 minutes walking around, take some screen shots and change the clothes you are wearing. It is a little buggy and has some performance issues. You return to the normal hanger and mostly ignore the Captain Quarters. Over time the performance issues are ironed out.

In November Crucible is released, with extra Captain Quarters added so that they now match the station type. If it is a player station, the controlling Alliance logo is also displayed on several walls. CCP allows you to invite up to 2 other players into your quarters. It is mostly pointless – but some characters with clothing glitches are in high demand for amusing screen captures. Subsequent patches allow you to purchase cosmetic updates, including being able to turn up or down the ambient light and dynamically change the color scheme.

Inferno comes next in April 2012, and Concourse and Corporation Meeting rooms are released. The Concourse is instanced and the number of real players shown in each one is limited, but NPC characters fill the space depending on how busy the station is. The main draw card is the undock viewing window. Aside being simply fascinating to watch in a trade hub, it proves useful to have a friend or Alt watching it when you undock in unsafe space. Finally there is a reason to regularly use the Walking in Station feature.

There was a bit of unrest about the Corporation Meeting rooms. As you enter the door you immediately find yourself seated in a darkened room. Around you are the shadowy figures of your Corp mates. Their Avatars are not generated – that is limited to the 2 or 3 designated speakers who stand at the front, next to a large display.  This allows basic power point presentations to be shown and is surprisingly immersive – particularly once 50+ people attend and the room fills around you. You actually have to fly to the station to be in the meeting room, but you can view the telecast from other stations.

Retribution arrives at the end of 2012 and CCP introduces the Bar and Shop feature. The shop is just a nicer interface to buy clothes through, including preview modes. The Bar is again instanced, but you are able to chat to some mission agents there if you wish, and it is the hub for the new smuggling game mechanics.

2014 sees an excellent New Player Tutorial available in station, a black market, and various gambling games.  The smuggling and black market basically add another complete profession to the game.  Towards the end of the year espionage options are introduce and are well received.  They consist of a variety of hacking games use for intel gathering.  One allows you to see into the bay of another pilot, to view their active ship.  Another allows the station security system to alert you when another player requests to undock.  Another gives you a cargo hold manifest.  Most popular is the hacking game that allows you to show who is selling or buying an item on the market without first purchasing from them.  Of course failing such games alerts the pilot to what you are doing and has other negative consequences.

As you move forward to 2015 CCP is talking up their latest in station hacking game – where someone docked can temporarily bypass security to allow another player – who normally couldn’t dock, to do so.

CCP has been careful with their development of walking in stations. You have a functioning Captain quarter with a variety of cosmetic changes available for purchase. You can invite up to half a dozen other players in for meetings. Outside there is a concourse, corporation and alliance meeting halls, interview rooms, bars, and a handful of public spaces station owners can purchase.  The Planetary Interaction room in particular looks stunning. CCP has had to be smart about using generated NPC avatars to fill spaces and keep performance sharp. While you don’t have to walk around in stations, there are many reasons to do so.

In the meanwhile the game of flying space ships in EVE has continued to involve into what we know of it today.

I wish I was more creative with my ideas, and I wish I could paint a better picture of the possibilities I can see with Walking in Stations. I wish CCP did not make such a hash of its original implementation, and then become so hamstrung by the player’s reactions. I can see how it could have become a seamless part of the game which added to the “cool” factor, and catered for the type of player that is engaged more by seeing themselves walking around than looking at themselves as a ship.

I suspect however CCP would not have the fortitude to do anything with it, and the player base would not have the courage to allow them too.  It would also take so many years to get to the point where it viably added to the depth of the game that I wonder if it will ever be viewed as worthwhile.  I expect not.

Other posts can be found here

BB57 – The Mountain or a Molehill

BB 57 – I am going to paraphrase the topic of the latest blog banter.  What can be done to help people who don’t know how to fit their ships, and do veteran players have a responsibility to help them?

There’s a scene in the fourth series of Game of Thrones where Cersei Lannister approaches Gregor Clegane (otherwise known as The Mountain) while he is having some outdoor sparing practice. In this series the character is played by the huge Icelandic strongman Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson. The practice involves a guard thrusting a weapon into the hand of a slave and pushing them towards obvious and inevitable death. None put up a fight of note and The Mountain duly kills them.

When I watched the scene I immediately thought of EVE Online, and the tendency for people to post links to Killmails of poorly fitted ships. They are unremarkable kills that required little skill, little risk, and have a hapless victim.  Yet here are the posts – look, look, look at me – here’s an easy kill of someone who hasn’t played the game for long – let me crow and strut and announce to all and sundry my superiority.

The problem is not the poor fit – that is something most people will learn from one way or the other. The problem is the reaction to it.

So what can veteran players do? Well, it seems simple. They can keep their killmail links to themselves. Just send an EVEMail to the pilot saying you noticed their fit was less than optimum, and that if they would like some pointers to some better fits, just ask.

Other posts can be found here

BB 52 – Are we at the base of the Mountain, or on top of it?

BB 52 – The All Time (Weekly Average) graph for concurrent accounts logged into EVE at shows a plateau of around 30,000 for the last four and a half years. Everything must come to an end sooner or later and that is what this blog banter is about – what’s on the other side of the plateau?

My first thought is that CCP should be congratulated for being able to keep a 10 year old game fresh and interesting enough that they have maintained a stable and viable population of active players. It seems profitable and is able to pay for a suitable level of continued development. All things remaining the same, I could see this plateau continuing for years to come.

My second thought is that all things are not likely to remain the same.

So will the trend go up or down?

CCP certainly seems to have tried increasing its player base. For what is a relatively niche, small subscription based game – it seems to be disproportionally mentioned in the media. New expansions often include improvements to the new player experience, trying to increase retention rates. They also have lead-ins such as novels and the expanded EVE franchise of Dust, with Valkyrie still to come. On the surface however that does not seem to have increased the number of people actually logged into the game.

A negative trend seems more likely. I could envision this might come from better competition or a CCP made disaster (financial, such as Dust, or player burning like Incarna). It might also be impacted by something much larger and outside of CCP’s control, such as a GFC lead economic Depression, or the implementation of Government taxes on Virtual earnings or the like.

As is often the case with Blog Banters, I was actually more interested in questions which were not asked.

Why, if the subscription base has increased every year, are we not seeing a similar increase in the average number of people logged in?

One of the more common suggestions for this is that EVE’s growth is attributed to an Army of Alts that generally do not log in as much as main Accounts do.

Is it also being influenced by an aging player base that has moved out of their parent’s basement, started a career, got married and had kids? While they can afford to pay the subscription, they simply can’t log in as much anymore?

Does it relate to game mechanic changes which mean you can get things done quicker now, and don’t need to be logged in for as long.

Might it be the existence of Faction Warfare, Red verse Blue and external communication tools like Jabber which allows people to log in, find PVP relatively quickly, and then log off?

Maybe it relates to lots of Bots no longer logging in 23.5×7?

Is the statistic itself misleading? Has CCP started to include the Subscription numbers from the Chinese Server in their media releases, which won’t be reflected in who is connected to Tranquility?

Or is it influenced by a mix of the above and more things aside? It would be interesting to know.

What can CCP do to increase the numbers that are online and active in EVE?

Simplistically they need to retain more new players and keep older players for longer, while exposing them to an engaging and growing world. That is obviously far easier said than done! It is also a topic that could fill a chain of blog posts.

I will say that I was rather pleased to see the number of new players trying to come to grips with EVE when I was mucking around with my latest Alt. The start systems were very busy. It would not surprise me if those who stayed with the game, plus extra Alt accounts, were roughly covering the loss of older players who leave.

To retain more new players I think CCP need to keep on reiterating and improving the new player experience and tutorials. Mining could have its own chain of 20+ missions. It would be nice to see a check list that is ticked off as you cover various topics. It would also be nice to have additional steps or phases available for players wanting to move out of Empire, like wading pool versions of Null or Wormhole space available in exploration Deadspace pockets. Most importantly I think CCP really need to work on the perceptions that the game is too demanding and inaccessible – that is the frightfully common response I get from people when I mention that I play EVE.

At the other end of the spectrum, how do you keep older players around for even longer? Or in reality are they already doing that as well as can be expected?

There are plenty of reasons for people to leave that CCP can’t do anything about – limited free time or money, short attention spans, changed circumstances around jobs, relationships or family. Even the failure of an in game corporation can spell the end of someone’s subscription. I guess all you can do in that regard is make it easy for them to return if they want.

The area they might be able to help with is the Bitter Vet syndrome – although that could be more difficult to address than new player retention. I think – despite some derision, the continual rebalancing and fixing small issues helps. In so many ways this is a much better game than it was when I started 7 years ago.

I’m not sure however fixing specific segments of the game over an expansion or two, or throwing in new Jesus features will work to keep the average older player around for longer. It might help the 10 to 20% of people who use that part of the game, but it leaves the other 80 to 90% frustrated. With expansions coming out twice a year, and often only focusing on one subdivision of the game, it can be years between players feeling like they have got their share of the development pie. I don’t mean that people have to be generic Wormhole / Null Sec / Pirate / Industrialists to get anywhere in the game. I mean it helps CCP if older players enjoy multiple segments of the game, so that their development work has a greater chance of impacting them positively.

Fucked if I know how you do that though.

Other posts can be found here

BB 51 – Avoidance

BB 51 – EVE Online can be a game of heart-pounding, palm-sweating, adrenaline-fuelled ecstasy or agony. Sometimes over the years those reactions dim and what was once a panic inducing situation becomes commonplace routine. For some, the shakes never go away. From Druur Monakh (Twitter: @DruurMonakh) we get the topic of this banter: what was your most nail-biting experience in EVE Online so far?

I go out of my way to avoid nail-biting situations in EVE. It would be easiest to label it as being risk-adverse and leave it at that.

The truth is a little more awkward. I get the PVP shakes rather badly. I don’t know how bad it is in comparison to others, but it is enough that my voice stutters, I struggle to type, and my mouse movement is so inaccurate that it can be next to impossible to perform simple tasks in game.

It doesn’t matter how prepared and calm I am, or how rationally I am thinking – my body ignores me.

While the impact is diminished with familiarisation and regular exposure, it is not something I am able to manage or mitigate. It is not even consistent, so I can’t make assumptions about the timing or severity.

I went on a long roam a while back with 50 odd random pilots from a mailing list. While in station waiting for the form up I was shaking like I had a very animated case of Hyperthermia. We undocked, formed a conga line and after a long delay, headed off. A dozen jumps in and the shakes had died off. There were a number of combat situations which I took in my stride. Then – 30 jumps in, with nothing being reported by the scouts, the route set and easily followed, and everything in a routine, the shakes returned with vengeance. I don’t know why – there was no apparent reason for it. It was a struggle to align and warp.

It is too physically uncomfortable, tiring, and frankly embarrassing.  It ruins the experience I get from the game.

At this point, particularly if you have never followed my blog, you might be questioning why I play EVE and assume I never undock.  Yes I live in Empire as you might expect – but I have also spent plenty of time in Null Sec, lived in and around Low Sec, and am a Wormhole Day tripper.  I just try to avoid the nail biting situations.  I have alts watching gates, bookmarks all over the systems I am active in, cloaks on almost every hull, and bolt holes I can align to.  If I have one of those oh shit moments, it will generally mean that I have failed somewhere.

Instead my memorable moments are contrary to this Blog Banter.  For instance back when I lived out of a POS in Low-Sec there was a pirate who regularly patrolled through the system. I watched him time and time again try to catch me outside of the POS shields, using friends or Alts, pre-bookmarking anomalies, camping the system. This went on for a couple of weeks, but he never managed to get close.  After a while I realised that he stopped hunting for me. If he came through the system and I was the only one there, he would just move on. I wasn’t worth the time and effort to chase.

That’s the sort of memory I strive for – minimising danger through planning, preparation and patience. I’ll undoubtedly get caught at times – outsmarted or just through bad luck.  But those moments will tend to be over and done with so quickly that the shakes won’t alter the outcome anyway.

Yep – EVE is a sandpit, and people do really play this game for all sorts of different reasons.


Other posts can be found here

BB 49 – The tale of two old people

BB 49 – What is “rich” in EVE? Is it simply having more ISK than most everyone else, is it measured in raw numbers of some other ethereal quality? Can you actually be poor? Have you ever lost nearly everything and had to claw your way back? If you are rich, how do you know and how did you get rich?


One of my Grandmothers was asset poor, lived in a council retirement unit, and survived on the pension. She never seemed to do anything, instead staying at home complaining about money and her struggles.

At the time I knew an elderly man who was also asset poor, lived in a retirement unit, and survived on the pension. He was never home, always out on some tour or visiting people. He made the very most of his limited income, and took full advantage of all the subsidised resources and activities available to him.

Two people with the same circumstances, yet one’s life was rich, and the other’s was poor.

I saw this contrasting example in my early teens, and I’ve seen the same thing over and over again since.

Wealth is not a number; it is a frame of mind.


So how does that relate to EVE?

I think an EVE player is wealthy when they are happy that they have enough ISK to achieve their goals and meet their needs, with a buffer for replacements. It is the point where they don’t need to grind ISK if they don’t want to.

By my own definition, I consider myself wealthy in game. My version of wealth currently comes to 21.0B ISK in the bank, 20.5B ISK of Assets, and some 700+ researched BPO. It was gained slowly over time through dabbling in mining, mission running, manufacturing, exploration, PI and trade – whatever took my interest at the time. It might be considered a paltry sum to some, or a King’s ransom to others.

That’s the thing about wealth – it means different things to different people.

If all you do is PVP in frigates, a few hundred million ISK might cover all your needs. Someone focused on Null Sec battles might be comfortable with a fleet of Alliance Doctrine hulls and the means to move and replace them. Someone focused on owning Supercarriers will need a much higher bank balance.

If that isn’t a vague enough answer, wealth is also fluid. What makes you happy one day might be insufficient the next. Your circumstances can change – a month of losing battles, altered goals, or even just giving too much credence to keeping up with the Jones. If a player feels they are forced to go back to grinding ISK again, then they have probably dropped out of the zone of what they consider wealthy.

Of course in contrast to being wealthy, you can also be poor. I suspect most new players spend the first year or so of the game feeling poor – I know I did. Always having to save up for that next skill book or hull upgrade. Having to undock in ships you really couldn’t afford to lose. Or maybe you are like my Grandmother, and it doesn’t matter how much ISK you have, you will never be happy.

I have only lost everything once in the game – and that was within the first week of playing. I had mined furiously and sold off everything I had to afford my first destroyer. Within minutes of undocking someone had suicide ganked me. I also remember changes in circumstances where my wealth was suddenly insufficient – the transition from Hi Sec to Null Sec saw my reserves quickly depleted. Buying that first Carrier was a big hit. I had a couple of times where the bulk of my assets came close to being locked in stations we subsequently lost access to. If there wasn’t that risk of being poor however, I am not sure EVE would hold the same allure or feeling of accomplishment.

So now that I have suggested that you are wealthy when you feel like you are, I am going to say that wealth does not actually make you rich in EVE. The rich players are those that love the game and are thoroughly entertained by it. And for that, you don’t need ISK, you just need the right frame of mind.


Other posts can be found here


Who needs the Oscars?

Blog Banter 43 – Celebrating the Nation of EVE

“For Blog Banter 43 I would like to invite every participant to nominate their peers for whatever awards you think they deserve. Let’s start the year with some EVE-flavoured altruism and celebrate the best and the worst of us, the funniest or the most bizarre, the most heroic of the most tragic of the past year. They could be corpmates, adversaries, bloggers, podcasters, developers, journalists or inanimate objects. Go nuts.”

Inner Zone Shipping Catalysts

Inner Zone Shipping Catalysts

My favorite blogs are listed on the roll to the left.  They cover a wide range of EVE topics from lots of different perspectives.  They all enhance my gaming experience in one way or the other, and each of them deserves awards.

However, like more than one participant of this particular banter, I don’t feel comfortable tackling this logically and judging these various blogs on their positive merits.  Instead – these are my irreverent and tongue in cheek EVE Blogging Awards.

In no particular order:

“The Most Misleading”

This one was easy.  No matter how many times I have visited Wormhole space – it has not been the target rich or as interesting environment as prolifically portrayed by Penny in this blog.  Scanning is also nowhere near as quick or as easy – and if I find 30 Signatures to sift through in a system, I don’t just go straight to the wormholes by feel, I am far more likely to go back the way I came crying.


“But it’s not EVE!”

The Ancient Gaming Noob

I struggle to read all the EVE blog posts I want (I currently have 150+ unread in Google Reader) – so I have to stay focused and not get distracted.  Yet I find myself reading every one of Wilhelm Arcturus’s posts on Hillmar in Rift, or his decision making process in World of Tanks – both games I have no intention of playing.


“The Best Use of Eye Candy”

A draw between Tgl3’s excellent

Through Newb Eyes

And  Drackarn’s equally as good

Sand, Ciber and Spaceships

This is for the most appropriate use of pictures to explain and enhance their blog posts.  This could also have been called the “Ooh Pretty Colours” Award.


“The Ruination of To Do Lists”

Jester’s Trek

Out of all the blogs I read, it is Jester’s who has me adding the most ideas or things to try out to my ever growing EVE To Do List.


“The Most like Me”

Ardent Defender

For the blogger who is probably the most like me.  I can’t say this is a good thing – but it is rare I don’t nod my head in agreement to a comment, or think –  yep, done that or had the same experience in EVE too.  (What was surprising was the number of candidates for this particular award.)


“Proof I’m not doing it right” or “P3nis envy”


Ardent Defender was a close second here, but Blake’s blog posts remind me that I am playing in the toddler pool of industry and not making anywhere near the ISK I could be if I was doing it right.


“The most Self-Assured”

Greedy Goblin

Another award with a number of contenders, but in the end it was a clear win for Goblin for the most posts where he is adamantly convinced of his own logic.  I might not agree all that often, but I do appreciate the perspective and the level of success he has achieved with his self-belief.


“Almost makes politics interesting, almost”

Poetic Discourse

Yet another award with multiple contenders, but Poetic Stanziel  wins this year for his more political bent posts that show little fear in giving his perspective, while still managing to make it a worthwhile read.


“It would be ok to die under this Pirate’s Fire”


I usually make a point of focusing on avoiding PVP, but if I was caught out by a wiry Pirate, I would like it to be Rixx Jaxix. Not only would he likely be flying solo, without neurtal logistic support, he would likely kill my Exploration Legion while flying a Condor.

A Picture of a POS, just because

A Picture of a POS, just because


I better stop now – but there is one last thing I would like to note.  There are Bloggers who make a point of commenting and referencing other blogs, and by doing so provide encouragement and help foster the EVE blogging community.  Ardent Defender, Serpentine Logic, Turamarth, Helena Khan and Red Neckromonger are a few that stand out for this particular Blog.  I guess you can blame them in part for my continued enthusiasm and frequent posting.

It’s been 12 months already?

Blog Banter 42– An EVE Year in Review

“A gaming universe as vastly unique as EVE Online is constantly evolving and the experience is different for every participant. Conventional games review techniques cannot possibly hope to provide an accurate measure of every aspect of EVE’s gameplay. However, with a community initiative like the Blog Banters, we have the resources to deliver the most thorough and up-to-date review ever.

By combining the experiences of contributors from across the EVE metasphere, we get a wealth of opinions from veterans and rookies alike. We’ll be able to combine input from faction warfare specialists, wormhole residents, null-sec warriors, missioners, pirates, industrialists, roleplayers, politicians and more to paint a complete picture of the health and progress of EVE Online in its current Retribution incarnation.

Who better to review EVE Online than those who know it best?”

Not cloaked - must be flying in Empire


2012 was my 6th year in EVE.  I concentrated more on solo pursuits, continuing my Backwater Trading, PI, T2 invention and Manufacturing, Exploration, and more than my usual amount of moving through Low Sec, NPC 0.0 and Wormhole space.

The year started out ok with the aftermath of the Crucible release, new Tier 3 Battle Cruisers, and new dynamic backgrounds.

It then seemed that the general feeling within the game took a turn.  There was still a lot of anger from the Incarna debacle; with strong opinions bantered about on what needed to be done to fix things, and the types of players who were to blame for the malaise in game.  I noticed remarks from CCP (CCP Soundwave in particular) and the CSM that seemed to target Solo Empire Players as needing to be forced to play the game differently.  (Steps that haven’t really taken place as yet.)

Inferno came along in a staggered release over April and May, with more graphic and sound effect updates, a War Declaration system overhaul which was soon gamed by the players, a Mercenary Marketplace (it is used?), and a Faction Warfare Overhaul which was gamed even harder by the players.  The UI was improved with effect bars and various aesthetics, and the Inventory system was further patched.  It was easy however to feel like there wasn’t much in it for you, particularly due to bugs, overview resets, and the feeling it lacked polish.

One area that was really noticeable about Inferno was the impact it had on my client performance.  Incarna had seen my reasonably spec’d desktop go from being able to comfortably run 3 clients at the same time down to only two.  Inferno knocked it from 2 clients down to only 1.  As I almost always dual boxed, the game had become unplayable.

While a steady stream of patches saw that improve somewhat, I ended up buying a new custom desktop to make EVE viable again.  If I hadn’t, I would have given away the game at that point.  As it was, there didn’t seem to be anything new in game that was interesting, and overall it just lacked cohesiveness.

A somewhat fun way to mine

It was probably the ship rebalancing which saved the game for me.  Here was change that you would have to review, plan towards and adapt to.  CCP’s communication in general was better in the second half of the year, and there was plenty of things for people to debate, muse over, and look forward to.

The Mining Barge changes in August highlighted to me the value of moving from a Tier to Role based approach for ships.  It was also a sign that CCP was willing address pressing issues outside of Expansions.

CCP provided a whole series of discussion threads in September looking at the Frigate, destroyer and cruiser changes.  For the first time in an age, there seemed to be a sense of positive progression in the game.

October and November passed with small patches and plenty to look forward to.  Retribution finally arrived, with its Bounty Hunting, Crimewatch, New Destroyers and Mining Frigate, all the ship rebalancing, UI and sound improvements, and finally an Inventory system which started to behave somewhat consistently.  The game client itself suddenly came together, and managed to feel relatively coherent.

At the start of the year I would have rated EVE at around 68%.  By mid-year it was down to 45%.  But over the last 5 months CCP has managed to turn that around to finish 2012 on a high.  The sounds, appearance and effects look markedly better, the UI – while not wining any awards, now fits together and mostly seems to work.   Areas like the aggression system – previously a complicated and mostly hidden aspect of the game, is now more visible and easier to understand.  Much shorter down times, much shorter session change timers, market order highlighting – just change after change that really seemed to add up by the end of the year.

So as of now, I would rate EVE at 85%.  Given its age and my bitter vet status, that is more than respectable.

BB 39 – An unpleasant truth

Blog Banter 39: Home

“Some say a man’s home is his castle. For others it is wherever they lay their hat. The concept is just as nebulous in the New Eden sandbox.

In EVE Online, what does the concept of “home” mean to you?”

Probably unsurprising given the name of this blog, I have hermit inclinations.  While the practical realities of being married with children regularly force me out into society, I am generally not all that relaxed, and as soon as possible I scurry back to the sanctuary of home.  I work from home.  I play from home.  Home is where I am most comfortable, familiar, ordered and safe.

Given my strong understanding of what home means to me and its importance, I thought this would be an easy question to answer.



I have spent lots of time in Derelik, Catch, Providence, Syndicate, Kador and Devoid.  Out of those I am most familiar with Derelik.  It is however a long way from anywhere, and I haven’t lived there for years.  I am probably fondest of Providence – but again I haven’t visited it in years either.  The reality is that I enjoy my time roaming and living out of an Orca or Carrier more than any one particular region.

I have always had a primary station in game where I keep all my collectibles, gift ships, curios, spares and so on.  Across the life of my main I have had 4 locations that have fulfilled this role, three in Derelik, and the current one in Devoid.  My industry alts tend to congregate around the same station, and any POS I anchor are usually nearby.  That is probably as near as to what constitutes a physical home I have, except for the fact my Main rarely bases himself out of it.

The concept of Home is of course objective, and for many it is not the where that is important, but whom with.  I looked at my employment history *, but as I went down the list of Corporations, none stood out as being like a home.  The first half of my EVE life was more collaborative and engaging, the social interactions being more motivating.  However the core of people I played the game with were generally not all in the same Corporation at the same time.  As they have slowly left or gone dormant, and my personal circumstances changed (having children), I no longer invest in the game in such a way that would cultivate a social home.

In the end I was a little perplexed by this supposed simple banter.  Given how long I have played the game – why can’t I pin point my place within it?

The logical answer is that EVE does not provide me with a home as I already have one of those.  EVE is an escape, a distraction, an indulgence, a source of entertainment.

The more honest answer though is that it is not safe to have a home in EVE.  I would have liked there to have been a place I could call home.  I’ve anchored my own POS, I’ve watched a number of Station eggs being anchored and marveled at the notion of having a home patch.  But there is no permanency or safety in EVE.  I was shown that as a new player when I undocked in my brand new Cormorant to have it promptly suicide ganked.  I watched as Providence was steamrolled and purged of the CVA and its holders the first time.  I watch now as CCP continue to change the rules and so the very landscape of the game.

I don’t have a home in EVE as I find it too dangerous to invest in one.


* I have spent 4% of my EVE life in NPC Corporations, 34% in Personal Corps, 20% in Corporations run by RL Friends, and 42% in Corporations I’ve gone through the recruitment process to join.

BB38 – CCP and its laurels

Blog Banter 38: Dogma

In his recent “That’s just the way it is” post on Jester’s Trek, blogger Ripard Teg posits that the established EVE player-base has come to accept many of EVE’s design idiosyncrasies, rarely questioning their purpose or benefit. Conversely, he also suggests that new players might not be so forgiving of these “quirks”. In an interview with Gamasutra, Senior Producer CCP Unifex describes EVE Online’s developers as “relatively hands-off janitors of the virtual world”, underlining that he has only four content developers but “a lot” of programmers and engineers.

Has a culture developed where CCP has started to take player effort for granted – expecting the “social engine” to fulfil tasks that might otherwise be CCP’s responsibility? Or should this culture be embraced as part of “emergent gameplay” with these quirks accepted as the catalyst for interaction?


I have to admit that I didn’t fully understand what this BB Topic was asking.  My best guess is “are CCP taking for granted the ingenuity of its player base to cover for in game foibles and a lack of CCP directed content?  If they are, is there an actual problem with that?”

Before Incarna I would have said yes.  Since the Incarna debacle however I don’t think CCP takes anything about its players for granted.

For the last 12 months almost all of CCP’s focus within EVE has been on rehashing old content, usually working (with varying degrees of success) to address some of the more problematic areas or to enhance what is already there.  They are also listening to their players (sometimes too much), and I see more reactive changes in attempt to placate people than I’ve previously been used to in the game.

The consequence of this type of focus however has been a lack of new features or content.

Instead of just assuming the players will make up for this, they have specifically worked on areas to drive player conflict and so content – with the War Declaration and Faction Warfare changes for a start.

Part of the reason I wasn’t sure I got this topic right was the number of other posts which seemed to focus on issues within the game which hadn’t been addressed.  Many could certainly negatively impact on the new player experience.  To my mind this is less about taking players for granted, and more a natural response to familiarisation.

I am reminded of what happens when you change jobs.  At the beginning you tend to notice processes and procedures that could be improved.  You refrain from regaling your new colleagues with these pearls of wisdom until you become more accustomed with the environment.  A month or two later you catch yourself thinking that you never got around to telling anyone about those ideas – but by then you can’t remember what they were.  You are now familiar with the environment, accept or understand the quirks and nuances, and are productive within it.

That doesn’t excuse leaving these things unaddressed, but to my mind explains why it might be the case.

So overall my answer is a somewhat emphatic (and boring) no, CCP are not just sitting on their laurels and coasting on the resourcefulness of their players.  They seem to be really working on polishing the game.  I don’t however have a view on the final impact of this on the sandpit.  It might be better, worse, or just different.

Lines don’t look that great when drawn in sand

Blog Banter 37: The Line in the Sand

“EVE Online sits on the frontier of social gaming, providing an entertainment environment like no other. The vibrant society of interacting and conflicting communities, both within the EVE client and without, is the driving force behind EVE’s success. However, the anonymity of internet culture combined with a competitive gaming environment encourages in-game behaviour to spread beyond the confines of the sandbox. Where is the line?”

This is a complicated question – probably more suited to an Anthropologist’s PHD thesis than a blog post.

Simplistically, where the line sits comes down to accepted social, moral and legal norms. There is a field of science dedicated to this area, with legitimate means of identifying and categorising these norms.

The problem is that EVE – despite the marketing lingo, is not real.

The players connect remotely to a virtual world. They are not tied to a single geographical location. There is no consistent cultural history. They live under different legal and political systems. They have differing religions, languages, education, wealth and basic values. Even the population demographic is unusual, being mostly male and over 18 years of age.

In other words, instead of a single line in the sand, there are hundreds of lines, each as plausibly valid as the next.

When you play EVE I think you just have to accept this “flexible moral compass”, and give more leeway than you might personally be comfortable with.

While not an especially good example – it looks like our Corp recently had a hanger cleaned out by a thief. There was some disbelief and anger at this. Personally I just felt a little disappointed that the act representing less than 1% of the Corp, impacted the trust of the other 99%. The thief might have infiltrated the Corp just to steal. It might have been done by a hacked account. It might have been someone’s idea of revenge, or proving a point about security, or just plain simple greed. Whatever it was, I don’t feel the act crossed any line outside of the game.

Over the years however I have witnessed or heard multiple firsthand accounts of situations where I believe EVE related behaviour has crossed too far into the real world, even giving allowances for differing social norms. I have heard from people who have physically approached other players and threatened to assault them, or had that done to them. I have seen real life relationships systematically and deliberately undermined to further in game goals. I have seen people who clearly have emotional or psychological issues being purposefully provoked and upset with apparent intent on their wellbeing.

So I think there is a line, and the simplest way to define it (to my knowledge) is the classic Golden Rule.

It’s not perfect, but it works for most people and most situations. If you would not readily accept a behaviour being directed to you (or a loved one) in real life, then you would cross the line if you directed that same behaviour (in real life) to someone else.

(* The line image was taken from

What public identity?

Blog Banter 35: The Public Perception of EVE Online

Now approaching its tenth year, the EVE Online player community has matured into an intricate and multi-faceted society viewed with envy by other game developers, but is frequently regarded with suspicion by the wider gaming community. Is this perception deserved? Should “The Nation of EVE” be concerned by its public identity and if so how might that be improved? What influence will the integration of the DUST 514 community have on this culture in the future?

[Unrelated and random bonus question sponsored by EVE News 24: What single button would you recommend be included on an EVE-specific keyboard?]

EVE Who?

I read two mainstream computer magazines each month – both of which have gaming sections.  Over the last 6 years that I have been playing EVE – some 140+ editions, I have only seen EVE online mentioned once.  I’ve never seen it mentioned in the IT Tech sections of the couple national papers I read, or the occasional episode I catch of a computer games related TV show.  Whenever it has come up in conversation, next to none of my circle of friends, colleagues or acquaintances have heard of it.

World of Warcraft and franchises such as Halo, The Sims, Super Mario, Call of Duty, Angry birds and so on are frequently mentioned in main stream media.  While EVE might be technically respected and have a solid fan base, it seems pretty much unknown out of the MMO sphere.


Ah, that EVE

Those few people I come across in real life who have heard of EVE tend to show disdain for the game – it is too complicated, or the interface is too poor, or there is too much repetition and mouse clicking.  Those with interest might look wistful, but always seem to indicate that they just can’t imagine themselves spending the time and effort to really get into the game.

Even though I love the game and have played it for years, I don’t try and sell it to my friends.  I know it requires a learning curve and effort, in an environment that is often unforgiving and immoral, that most of them won’t appreciate.  My friends who did play have moved on, only able to go a couple years before it just required too much effort for a more casual gamer to progress further.

The small public identify EVE does have seems to be that it is a deep and complicated game that isn’t for everyone.

Still – it seems to be profitable with a slow but steady organic growth, so maybe there isn’t really an issue.


Sell EVE

When EVE is in the MMO media, it seems to be for two reasons.  First is a level of fascination at the politics and scope of the events which occur in game.  While good, I am not sure how many new players it encourages.  It is not as if they can pick up the game and be instantly involved.  They generally have to work through an apprenticeship which can take years.

The second reason to see EVE in the MMO media is for less savory drama – player revolts, CCP mess ups, the Mittani’s faux pas and so on.  Such drama is not good.  People play games for fun and to escape – and such coverage suggests EVE might be more hassle than it’s worth.

A common theme – from me as well, is that to make EVE more appealing to the masses, CCP will have to make changes which would likely break what makes the game special in the first place.  The age old suggestions of making things less complicated, or cutting down on the ability to grief and be nasty.  While I was going to ramble on in the same vein, one word in the previous paragraph jumped out at me – fun.

If CCP want to increase their subscriber numbers, they should focus on making all aspects of the game fun.  It seems obvious, but I have found many aspects of game play are interesting to research and get working, but then are almost immediately boring.  You don’t even have to master it before mining, PI, most of the PVE content and so on are no longer fun.  I am not sure how you fix that – but that should be a goal.


Dusty EVE

Dust might throw a spanner in the works.  I have no real interest in the FPS genre, and I don’t follow it in the media.  The numbers suggested as having access to the free DUST download via their PS3 however are just mindboggling.  If CCP manage to pull off a half acceptable game, they could have a huge number of gamers exposed to the EVE world.

What they will find is not just the same maps to play over and over – the maps they will influence instead cover thousands of solar systems and tens of thousands of planets.  To be successful they need to work with player corporations and alliances.  The environment has longevity and consequence to it.  I don’t envision large numbers of those players then deciding to subscribe to the space ship component, but if the game manages to get into the mainstream media more often, then those unique people who could carve a niche out for themselves in EVE might have an easier time finding the game.

EVE should continue along happily enough regardless what happens with Dust.  If Dust is successful however, it could have a huge impact on the EVE subscription numbers.  It will be interesting to see.


Bonus button

I was going to say a drone launch button – but that becomes more complicated once you have multiple drone types.  I use a Logitech G110 keyboard, and the EVE key macro I use the most is [CNTL] W (to select all).  It’s boring, but still gets used in lots of places even after the loot all button was added.


A list of participants (that will be updated by the owner as time permits) can be found here:

Do we really need the hassle of Online Spaceship Politicians?

Blog Banter 34: The Rise of the Spaceship Politicians

The polls have just opened closed for the election of candidates to occupy the 14 seats on the 7th Council of Stellar Management. To kick-start a topical CSM-themed banter, CCP Xhagen – fierce champion of freedom of speech and in his words, “the guy that gets yelled at when the CSM dudes do booboos” – has offered this question:

“How would you like to see the CSM grow, both in terms of player interaction and CCP interaction?”

I did not vote for this year’s CSM. I tried. I tried to read the statements of each candidate. I tried to follow the various interviews that were given. I tried the candidate comparison tool. In the end it just took too much time and effort.

Don’t get me wrong, I like the idea, and I think in certain ways the CSM has been useful. It is worth having, even if I don’t think it has anywhere near the power it thinks it does.

Why was it such a big job to just understand what each candidate stood for? I wanted a concise summary from each of them – but instead I more often found a few inane comments or propaganda images that said nothing, or promises that they could never deliver. If there was a detailed message, it was often spread across 100 blog and forum posts, scattered to all corners of the Internet. It seriously takes much less effort to research and understand the candidates I can vote for in my local Council, State or Federal elections.

So to start with – I would like the CSM to grow by having it easier for players to identify a candidate that they are happy to give their vote to:

. Candidates had to get a certain number of likes before they were included on the ballot paper. I am not sure if it is possible, but it would be nice if people were not able to give their “like” vote to more than one candidate. Maybe that will cut down on some of the numbers.  Otherwise increase the number of likes people need to generate.

. Ask candidates to label themselves against one or two areas of primary interest – such as Empire, Carebear, Null Sec, Faction Warfare, Pirate, Null Sec, Low Sec, Wormhole, Manufacturing, Trade – whatever. Have this on their Campaign thread title, so that voters can save some time by just focusing on the subset covering the areas most important to them.

. Provide a template for use in the first post of each Candidate’s forum campaign thread which prompts a certain number of standard questions, to help in comparing them

. Provide a standard search link for each candidate that lists all their forum posts

. I know this may seem silly, but for each account which votes put them into a raffle. The prize doesn’t have to be big – a PLEX, or a set of the freely given away ships, or something else which helps encourage people to vote.

The second reason I did not vote was because I couldn’t shake the malaise that the process was mostly pointless. Too many of the seats on the council would be controlled by power blocks whose members did not need to read up on all their options, they instead could just mindlessly vote for whoever their Alliance told them too.

There is a quote I’ve always appreciated – based I assume on a better known comment attributed to Thomas Jefferson.

“A democracy is where 51% of people live, and 49% die.”

I hope CCP understand the current mechanism isn’t perfect, and that the CSM does not actually represent the “average” player. For example the CSM 6 chair was combative, derogatory towards CCP and most other players, and literally endorsed behaviour aimed at harming the game experience of as many people as he could.

I hope also however that CCP understand that they have not shown over the years that they fully understand what the average player wants to get out of EVE.

The CSM should be looked at as a somewhat unique opportunity for the developers and a subset of enthusiastic players to get together, bounce ideas and get feedback. It is worthwhile, but not the be all and end all. Over the last year I felt that it was in fact some of the threadnaughts on the forums, discussing new ideas – such as the one on the Player Owned Custom Officers, which provided the CCP developers with a clearer picture of where the general player base was coming from.

So in summary – make it easier to find someone to vote for, understand its limits, and keep the developers posting in the forums.

A list of participants (that will be updated by the owner as time permits) can be found here: