Blinkered

I was thinking about Neville Smit’s call for an Occupy New Eden movement. What sort of critical mass of EVE players would it need for CCP to pay enough attention to change their development plans?

I think it is fair to say that a notable proportion of players don’t involve themselves in much related to EVE outside of the game client.  I don’t however have any statistics to back that up.

I notice the EVE Online Facebook page has almost 290,000 likes – which seems reasonable, yet on average only a few hundred interact with any of their posts. Most of CCP’s official YouTube videos are viewed less than 20,000 times, their Twitch TV stats are even lower. Their trailers are the exception – but then they are often linked to from Ads and various external gaming sites. Most of the threads in the official EVE forum are viewed less than 1,000 times, including revisits. And of course you can look at the number of accounts that vote for the CSM.

Circumstantial, but to my mind it paints a picture.

If I am right about the possible audience, it seems unlikely that Neville’s idea would be seen and certainly not actioned by sufficient players to make a difference.

That is not to say it could never have an impact – if enough recognisable players, bloggers, tweeters, reporters, podcasters and what not all got behind it, CCP would listen.

I’ve read many of the initial responses from that group of players, and generally found them to be more thoughtful than expected. If you break them down however we return to a rehash of the well-trodden Hi-Sec Vs Everyone else topic. What’s the chance of getting any sort of consensus on that?

So I came to the conclusion Occupy New Eden won’t get to a wide enough audience or result in any sort of large enough common voice to make a difference. This assumption carried more weight after Neville made it clear this was more about provoking discussion than a ground swell movement.

As I kept reading responses I came across this related blog post from Talvorian Dex –

http://targetcaller.blogspot.com.au/2016/05/dont-occupy-modify.html

It is a common idea, repeated often. In harsh summation it is the suggestion that people stay subscribed to EVE longer if they get out of Hi-Sec, and so while Hi-Sec should be fun and engaging, players should be encouraged to move through the game to the next step. I think it is fair to say CCP subscribes to a similar view – they seem to try and steer players towards the conflict game styles that their statistics show keeps them engaged longer.

I can see the logic – and you might get some to transition, but mostly – in the most obvious and common sense way to me – that has and will continue to fail.

I think this is actually the crux of the issues Hi-Sec has. It isn’t their slice of development time, it isn’t what part of space CCP is focused on, it doesn’t need a player uprising. The problem is relatively simple and straight forward – CCP, and (sorry) the like of Talvorian really do not understand them. Conflict is not the driver that will keep most of them in EVE longer.

I don’t have statistics, and I am not sure how to convince people my view on this is accurate. I am going to start with just one somewhat topical example.

Have you noticed the derision Hi-Sec miners tend to get? There are groups devoted solely to griefing them, to try and force them to play a different sort of game. I read suggestions that they are saving these players from themselves, and that they deserve this lack of respect.

The Griefers can’t see why someone would like to spend years maxing out skills, and ship equipment, and ship hulls, and refining, and boosting, and implants, and hauling just to get to the point where they can say their mining yield is at the absolute maximum possible. Or why they take that further by bookmarking the optimal positions in each belt to maximum asteroids reached with the least amount of moving, or use survey scanners and PC stopwatches for each mining laser so that they can minimise the length of unproductive cycle time, or the satisfaction they get for totally strip mining a belt by themselves. And they do all this for some of the poorest ISK returns in the game.

The people and voices driving EVE’s development at the moment do not seem to understand why people would do that. I understand – because that is what I spent a couple years doing.

There is certainly a couple years of play in that – assuming the player remains goal oriented and sticks at it despite the contempt sent their way. What can CCP do to extend this?

Update the Rorqual so that it has the largest mining yield possible in game through fighter sized mining drones, and put an area effect superweapon on it that gives a short period of invulnerability for the mining fleet so the Calvary can ride in and save them if attacked?

How many Hi-Sec miners do you think that will entice? How many will stay subscribed for another year to train up all those skills and get the related in game assets?

What if they make a Hi-Sec version of the Rorqual. I’ve mentioned it before. Give it a mining yield marginally better than a Hulk, and balance the crap out of it so it cannot be used as a non-Ore hauler or be safe from War Dec in an NPC Corp. How many Hi-Sec miners would set a goal and spend more time subscribed to achieve that?

Hell – add two versions of Mining Titans, one Hi-Sec, one excluded from Hi-Sec, if you really want to stretch out the end goals for such players and keep them subscribed.

I’m not championing this as a solution – it is just an example. If the idea annoys you because you think it will take away possible new targets, then you probably don’t get Hi-Sec. Don’t worry, you are in good company with CCP.

It seems like it should be easy to fix – just sit down with CCP and explain what Hi-Sec enjoys about the game and why a sizeable number won’t ever be taking steps out of it, no matter what they do.  Give transition options, but concentrate on keeping them subscribed longer doing what they want to do.  Maybe the Council of null Sec influence and Management (CSM) can speak to them?  Or maybe not.  At the moment we have a PVP focused group thinking they understand and know what’s best for the Carebear focused, and they at not getting it right.

SP ISK Sink

I’m not sure what to think about this one:

http://community.eveonline.com/news/dev-blogs/exploring-the-character-bazaar-skill-trading/

It is in the early days, but CCP is considering allowing people to extract and sell their Skill Points.

The skill points – possibly in blocks of 500K, are collected by a Transneural Skill Extractor and placed into a Transneural Skill Packet.

Both these Transneural items can be traded on the market.

The Extractor will be purchased with AUR.

If a player consumes a Transneural Skill Packet they will get unallocated skill points.  This will be scaled to reduce the benefits for older players.  The initial suggestion was:

. 0 – 5 million skillpoints = 500,000 unallocated skillpoints added
. 5 – 50 million skillpoints = 400,000 unallocated skillpoints added
. 50 – 80 million skillpoints = 200,000 unallocated skillpoints added
. > 80 million skillpoints = 50,000 unallocated skillpoints added

In some / many ways it cheapens the time you spend developing your characters, and seems to be a further step towards pay to win.  Having said that, we already have ISK for PLEX and the Character Bazaar trading, so this just formalises it a little more and makes it more flexible.  It also acts as a SP and ISK sink for higher SP toons.

Interesting CCP…

The EVE theme park

Sugar Kyle raised an oft repeated, heated and hijacked topic – what sort of development would people like to see in Hi-Sec.

http://www.lowseclifestyle.com/2015/10/taboo-questions.html

I’ve seen discussions on this deteriorate into two very loud, hostile extremes – one side wanting their version of utopia, the other side wanting to burn it all to the ground. I expect the majority of Hi-Sec players would be frustrated by that. I saw in Sugar’s blog post a challenge for them to come out with some serious ideas.

While it is not possible to neatly pigeonhole everyone, I am going to start off with my assumptions. Plenty of people do not want to play EVE out of Hi-Sec. Attempts to force them to do so will result in many leaving the game instead. My ideas relate to what I think are two large Hi-Sec groups who can play a more theme park version of EVE – Miners and PVE Content Runners.

I think they are commonly motivated by aspirations to level up. Miners start off in Frigates, then Barges, then Exhumers, they work on efficient hauling, boosts from Orcas, implants, refining rates – with the long term goal of achieving the highest possible yield. PVE Content Runners work up from simple Belt ratting through to a selection of Exploration, Level 1 to 4, COSMOS, Epic Arc, Incursion and Drifter sites and missions. All the while they are upgrading their skills, equipment and hulls.

There is plausibly a couple years of content available for people with such motivations, slowed by having to complete against other players, and stretched further if they have good social interactions.

These groups have value to the game – both financially through their subscriptions, and because when they undock they are still part of our MMO and available to interact with.

Interestingly within the context Sugar provided, was a warning not just looking at creating more theme park content. I am basically however going to suggest just that – but hopefully in ways that won’t require so much development time.

So my first suggestion is give these people something to further aspire to. We have capital ship rebalancing coming next year. Adjust the Rorqual and let it move through Hi-Sec via Gates. Allow Hi-Sec Miners to use it to compress ore at the Belt and provide a very small boost to yield over the Orca. By doing this you give such players an extra year of goals in skill training and acquiring and fitting one. Add Level 5 missions to Hi-Sec – but with only a minimal increase in LP rewards over Level 4 missions. Give the Mission runners a further challenge. I emphasis both should only provide a small incremental increase in ISK generation, but will expand the levelling options in Hi-Sec using existing game assets.

My next suggestion is to quickly add content – there needs to be more variety. As I discussed in my recent Blog Banter – https://evehermit.wordpress.com/2015/09/22/bb67-i-am-ccp-hermit .. start spreading NPC factions around. Have a small percentage of cosmic anomaly sites in a region be for different Factions. You can come across a Guristas or Serpentis or Blood Raider site in Sansha space for example. Give the players a reason to swap modules on their ships and adjust their tactics. The same could be done in the pools of missions available for an agent. Have the occasional one thrown in against an unexpected pirate faction. This might fit in with when Faction Warfare becomes a four way battle – have the pirates also spreading their wings. Again it uses existing game assets.

I think CCP should review all their theme park content and see what they might plausibly add to Hi-Sec from other areas of the game. Gimp or tax it to ensure it doesn’t became a particularly rewarding process, but give the Hi-Sec players a chance to experience it.

I am already hopeful that some of the existing work CCP is doing will have a positive impact on Hi-Sec. The NPC AI changes might shake things up a little. Having NPCs target drones for example made a notable difference in how many players had to approach their PVE content. Could you imagine if Faction Rats try to warp off once they drop below 50% EHP?  Pilots would need to change their fit to include a warp disruptor if they wanted to hunt those spawns.  Further changes could be good for keeping players interested. Some of CCP’s balance changes have also impacted Hi-Sec a lot – such as the Hauler and Mining Hull tiericide updates. Giving players a choice between yield, tank, speed and capacity changed the face of the Hi-Sec belts and space lanes.

If CCP has a little Development time to spare, I would like them to add lots of simple and small exploration sites. I already outlined my ideas in my blog banter –upsized rats (a couple battle cruisers or one battleship), out of place rats (wrong faction for the region), entirely out of place rats (a handful of sleepers or incursion rats) or out of place resources (1-3 rare small asteroids). It would also be nice if there were solo low reward options in Incursions, such as clearing incursion rats off gates or belts, just so everyone can play a small part.

As I said in my previous post – this is not to homogenise space or making Hi-Sec so interesting that you won’t want to move. The rewards from these sites should be low, and the frequency they can be found balanced. They should also be scaled up and placed out of Hi-Sec. The idea is to increase the variety in the theme park with hopefully somewhat limited development effort.

There are two further areas I would suggest be looked at, but which will probably involve a lot more development work.

First – if new missions are to be created, think about making them a little more dynamic, and possibly look at some of what is done well in COSMOS missions. Your agent sends you to speak to someone in space who gives you four tasks, of which you need to complete two in any order. One might require you to scan down a site to run, another to fly through the neighbouring systems to find your mission beacon, or another to visit an open / shared DED complex for something, much like some COSMOS missions.

Second – try to have most of the traditional out of Hi-Sec mechanism available in Hi-Sec. Have exploration sites containing a Pirate NPC Moon mining operation. Let players use Syphon units on them for minimal ISK across a few days or a week, or give the players the option to try and destroy them instead for drops and bounty. Find hidden Pirate Citadels, and get a Concord bounty and some loot for going through the process of capturing / destroying them. Similarly find Pirate Structures that require Entosis links to be used on them. I would prefer if different players can complete in various ways over these, and for the NPCs to defend them. For some players it will be enough to train up the required skills and purchase different hulls so as to do something different, for other players it will be a stepping stone to moving out of Hi-Sec and using their new learnt skills against other players.

So, in case I’ve rambled on too much, a summary. I think there are a noteworthy number of EVE players who at the core play a levelling up theme park version of EVE.  They still add value to the game.  I think with smart use of existing game assets, CCP can relatively simply and quickly expand their game play options and experiences. This might add a year or two more content to the “average” life of such a Hi-Sec player.  Also work to expose them to as many mechanisms of the game as possible, to make it easier to transition to different Space if they happen to change their minds.

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.

Lots of Info

There is a lot of information coming out about the game at the moment, multiple bits and bobs that I would have preferred to discuss in a timely manner, but I am not sure I’m going to be able to.

It has been great to see the CSM Summit minutes coming out in quick order.  These are so much more useful now.  The first 3 days worth are available here:

https://community.eveonline.com/news/news-channels/eve-online-news/csm-x-summit-i-day-one-meeting-minutes/
https://community.eveonline.com/news/news-channels/eve-online-news/csm-x-summit-i-day-two-meeting-minutes/
https://community.eveonline.com/news/news-channels/eve-online-news/csm-x-summit-i-day-three-meeting-minutes/

Adding context to these and giving a nice picture on what the process is, I’ve been following the blogs of various CSMX members, particularly:

https://www.fuzzwork.co.uk/posts/
http://www.lowseclifestyle.com/

There is a Dev blog about a change in how big releases are done.  The 5 week releases will continue, but they will also do a couple of expansions.

http://community.eveonline.com/news/dev-blogs/looking-behind-and-looking-ahead-an-update-from-executive-producer-ccp-seagull/

I think this is – overall, a good thing.  I might discuss this more.

There was also a structure Dev blog

http://community.eveonline.com/news/dev-blogs/citadels-sieges-and-you-v2/

I need to re-read that one a couple of times.  I think it is a good idea to bring back a form of HP grind.  It just needs to be carefully balanced.  It references Capitals as retaining a role in Structure take downs.  That should please people.

 

Bits and bobs

A small collection of links I found interesting over the last day or three.

. http://nosygamer.blogspot.com.au/2015/08/a-new-protest-in-jita.html

The Nosy Gamer mentioned some Russian Alliances were protesting in Jita over the Sovereignty changes. That is useful to know if you are planning a shopping trip. Ironically they seem to be protesting that the changes are having the impact they were designed to – making it harder for Alliances to hold huge sways of space that they do not actively use.  CCP Goal achieved?

 

. https://forums.eveonline.com/default.aspx?g=posts&m=5964850#post5964850

CCP Nullarbor mentioned the capital rebalancing has gained some momentum. They may have a role around controlling a grid, impacting the Entosis link mechanism.

 

. https://forums.eveonline.com/default.aspx?g=posts&m=5966867#post5966867
https://forums.eveonline.com/default.aspx?g=posts&m=5965199#post5965199

CCP Ytterbium suggests Cyno Beacons might be put in space near Structures, while CCP Nullarbor suggested they might be moved to Gates.

 

. https://forums.eveonline.com/default.aspx?g=posts&m=5965058#post5965058

CCP Nullarbor indicated the medium structures should take around a week to destroy, the larger structures longer.

 

. http://denofiniquity.net/?p=70

I first noticed this linked to on Sand Cider and Spaceships.  While I don’t agree with every comment, it is a very reasonable overview of a lot of issues flagged around Fozziesov and suggested solutions.  I will say one thing – a lot of these were flagged by players well before the mechanism was introduced.

 

** EDIT

The first set of changes to Null Sov have been announced.  A step towards what some players have been asking for.

https://forums.eveonline.com/default.aspx?g=posts&t=441365

Too much to ask?

Without trying to add to the drama, and mindful of the solo focused way I play EVE, I did want to remark on a concern I have about the Entosis mechanism.

It expects pilots to be consistently available to play EVE in certain windows of time. Step outside of Empire or want to use larger structures, and those windows grow in size.

It puts casual players defending at a distinct disadvantage.

In 2014 the average age of the EVE player was around 32. That is a prime time to be managing a career, marriage, kids, mortgage, and all the responsibilities of adulthood. I have a suspicion that many EVE players are actually more casual in nature, with limited free time and flexibility.

I currently only have one semi-reliable window to play EVE each week, between 10 am and Noon on Sunday. I manage to play then maybe 50% of the time. The rest of my EVE sessions are a sporadic 30 minutes here, 60 minutes there. I commonly only spend a few hours a week undocked. There is no way I can cover even the most basic of vulnerability windows.

Boohoo, it’s tough to be me.

What if the 4 or 5 real life friends I’ve historically played EVE with returned? They are busy like me. What sort of vulnerability window would we be able to reliably cover as a group? A medium structure in High-Sec should be fine, but we wouldn’t manage a large structure in a wormhole.

How many casual players would I need to get together to do something in Null-Sec?

The Entosis mechanism should work ok for a large, well organised group of defenders – even if mostly casual. They will have their procedures documented and down pat, suitable doctrine ships available on contract, and a critical mass of pilots. Even if only a couple percent of them are online during vulnerable periods, they can put up a suitable defence and not burn out.

But these same groups were able to exist comfortably enough under the Dominion Sovereignty system. I didn’t want to join them then, and I don’t want to join them now.

For defending groups without that critical mass, I can see a situation where their pilots quickly tired of having to align their play time and in game focus just on the Entosis Mechanism.

Thinking at the smaller end of the scale, I don’t think there should be such a focus on pilots being online. A POS can currently automatically defend itself – so should sovereignty and player structures. Make a player have to configure them appropriately, and accept a loss of utility for this defence. Obviously also make such a defence more effective if manned, like POS are now.

I don’t like the idea of being trolled out of assets because I don’t have hours of free time to sit around, not having fun, babysitting them. I am far more likely to put the time and expense into using mechanisms like this when I feel attackers have to make some non-trivial risk and effort to remove them.

It is hard to say all this without looking like a tool with a large sense of self entitlement. I don’t expect EVE to cater to my unique circumstance. Hopefully I am wrong and casual players are in fact in the minority. If I am right however, I’m not sure the current mechanism as is will be healthy long term.

Is CCP asking too much of its players?