Thank you very much everyone for placing me on CSM 6 and now on CSM 7 where I am currently serving as the Chairman! If you would like to contact me directly, do not hesitate to just send me an eve mail in game. Keep your eyes here and watch for new posts.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Reality Check

It's September which means that we, as EVE Players, are usually returning from summer vacations and have more time to play EVE again... or not?  Historically, the summer always sends EVE into a lull of activity and then things get busy again as people come back and want to shoot each other. Anyone that's been paying attention to the daily PCU for EVE or actually playing the game has probably noticed that a lot of folks aren't bothering to log in at the moment. Some people aren't content to just speculate about this sort of thing and go a bit further.  Enter a guy named Jester.

Last week, one of EVE's most prolific bloggers published some information that has opened a lot of people's eyes to the fact that all of the 'EVE is dying (again)' hysteria might not be completely off base.

Some Curves Aren't

If you haven't read this, it's well worth your time. Go ahead.  If you don't like lots of words, I'll save you some time and post the graphs that has everyone like me saying, "See? I told you so!" These graphs represent the rolling averages of players online:
This is the 'all time' graph.

This is the '2011' graph.
Jester and others have written lots of stuff on what all this means but I'll sum it up: Something is WRONG with EVE.

If CCP's internal numbers look anything like this, it proves that Incarna and other recent expansions have done nothing to spike the interest of the gaming community. EVE is stagnating due to a complete lack of player interest in the state of the game. It is also obvious that whatever perceptions CCP had about what Incarna was supposed to do in terms of raising their subscriber base have not played out. Older players, like myself, are losing their enthusiasm due to the fact that much as CCP wants to work in the fashion industry and make games about vampires, their flagship product is a game about spaceships.

As CSM6 continues to say, "We need new things to do, not new things to wear!"

Behold all that EVE might be!

The Reinvention of Null-sec

This brings us to a pair of dev blogs published recently by my former colleague at CCP, Greyscale:

Nullsec Development: Rules and Guidelines

Nullsec Development: Design Goals

I'll let Taylor Swift's awesomely diverse range of facial expressions explain how most EVE Players greeted these blogs:

The Goddess of Being Surprised.
For the most part I think many were happy to see that anyone at CCP was even thinking along these lines. There was an almost audible sigh of relief that someone 'got it'. People spend so much time bashing CCP because of their terrible P.R. and bizarre top-down creative direction that it was refreshing to finally see some blogs come out that said things players, especially veterans, could unabashedly agree with.

However, due to the way things have been going the past couple of years in terms of Flying in Space (FiS) development, the skepticism meter is spiking. The fact is that no matter how much people like Soundwave and Greyscale 'get it', unless they get the resources and manpower needed to implement these ideas we will never see them hit Tranquility.

My personal take on the dev blogs is pretty simple: I've seen a lot of this before. Hell, I've said a lot of this before to players when I was on the other side of the table. It's great to see again but what saddens me is how Greyscale's 0.0 road map reminds me pretty much exactly of stuff that was discussed between Apocrypha and Dominion (about 2.5 years ago). I could go back and pull out old emails and (if I still had access) meeting minutes on the internal CCP 'Trac' pages that had shitloads of similar trains of thought to them. It's all been updated and thought through again, but the core principals and goals are the same: iterate on existing crappy game play and make it more better good fun awesome.

Dominion itself was originally a much larger expansion which everyone acknowledged would be the first in a staged series of expansions that went through the next 2-4 development cycles. Unfortunately, Dominion was never finished properly; it was chopped off at the knees and reinvented into something that bore no resemblance whatsoever to the lofty goals its original design aspired to. Multiple objectives, intel / stargate tools, a proper treaty system, wreckable outposts, real siege / sov warfare, mega alliance-sized industrial projects, wormholes leading to new, completely empty areas of 0.0 that had to be built up from scratch… Basically, a renaissance of industrialization and ISK sinks.

None of these ever made it to Tranquility because somewhere along the way, CCP forgot that what makes their game great is the core game play derived from Flying In Space. Instead, all of the iterative and interactive content was shelved and we got the expansions of Planetville, Sansha Zombies and A Crappy Room To Sit Alone In.

To be honest, the only thing that makes me believe we’ll ever see anything good happen in SPACE is that Soundwave and Greyscale are doing it but that doesn’t mean they will be allowed to follow through on any of it because who knows what butterfly CCP will want to chase next to the detriment of their core product. As I said on last night's special EVE Radio broadcast:

"CCP needs to find the 'romance' of EVE again. CCP needs to fall in love with the game beyond the money it makes for them to work on other projects."
Take the bad away, CCP!!
Time for Revolution

Just imagine what EVE would look like today if the resources of the past two years that have been wasted on all this other stuff would have gone into FiS? Instead of focusing on what made 300,000+ people want to play the game and building THE definitive spaceship MMO for all time CCP decided to branch out in too many directions at once. Instead of proper iteration on the features players really care about, we got new ones completely out of the blue.

Make no mistake about it - without the enthusiasm and drama created by the players of EVE, CCP would never have been as successful as it has become. They laid the groundwork but it was the players actions within the game that made the it interesting to the media and other potential subscribers. Today, those people that helped build EVE to where it is (many of whom are on this CSM) struggle for reasons to even log in. The leaders of EVE are doing the same thing again for the 4th or 5th time and the soldiers following them are desperate for something new that catches their interest. I’ve been playing for eight years now; when I talk to players that are barely two years in and they say they feel like they’ve done it all... something is WRONG with EVE!

The romance of the game is gone. There are no heroes or villains anymore. The old rivalries have faded. The people that used to drive the narrative of EVE are bored and all of the old fires that used to keep things moving have died to embers. Players look around at the space they hold in null sec and wonder why it matters. There is no mystery or wonder left.

My Advice to CCP

There needs to be nothing less than a revolution in how the management of CCP sees EVE Online. I think that the management of EVE has just plain forgotten what 'EVE' is. They have become so distracted by all of the other projects that they are trying to work on (DUST / WoD) that they no longer remember that EVE Online is a game about Spaceships. The Flying in Space part of EVE is the core of CCP's business and they have starved it of resources for too long. Without proper FiS development in EVE, all of CCP's plans for Dust and World of Darkness will not come to fruition.

CCP needs to change course or else the flat-line of player subscriptions and logging in is going to turn into a cliff. Whatever projections they may have had about what Incarna and Tyrannis was supposed to do for their subscriber base is obviously not happening.

EVE Online is still the sole product that CCP produces that supports any other endeavors they pursue. It is their bread and butter. Without an EVE that keeps players excited, CCP are never going to see DUST come to fruition much less see World of Darkness completed. Unfortunately, their core, flagship product is dying right now.  It is dying not just because of a lack of game mechanics or this thing or that thing being 'broken' but because the thought processes that are driving the creative direction of the game are broken.

EVE's managers used to actually play their game.  They used to understand that what got them the good press was the stuff they didn't have to pay for! I'm talking about the players making videos of their exploits and writing stories about what happened. The greatest stories of EVE are not about going into your room and changing into a new pair of sunglasses; they were about taking down alliances with nothing more than a forum post. They are about epic battles and heists; about trickery and all the other human drama that occurs in game. If EVE cannot provide the proper setting for these things to occur, everyone will stop listening because there is nothing good to hear, to do, or to be.

Newsworthy drama resulting from players doing crazy stuff with spaceships sells subscriptions. Drama caused by dumb clothing prices in your (badly presented) micro-transaction store and reported with a sneer by the gaming media and elsewhere does not.

We can continue to talk about game mechanics and everything that needs to get fixed, and those things do need to happen, but in order for the game to get back to what it once was there needs to be a shift in how CCP views this product. They need to see it as something more than just a money maker.  Otherwise we are going to lose the game that so many of us fell in love with a long time ago and so desperately want to fall in love with again.

It is possible to make all our dreams come true: a return to glory for EVE, an increase in revenues for CCP. It just requires CCP's management to turn their heads and put resources into the things that will make those dreams a reality.


  1. Glad to see the CSM pushing this.

  2. Great post, Seleene. You make a lot of great points that I think CCP really needs to consider and address with the CSM. I posted some thoughts over at FHC.

  3. This is one of the reasons I think at times to just delete the stupid blog that I have. Because people like you say it so much better than I can. Good read. Spot on mate. Spot on.

  4. I wouldn't have said "turn their heads", I would have said: "pull their heads out".
    -8 year vet who logs on MAYBE once a month these days, tools around a little, goes "meh", and logs back out.

  5. Well said, Seleene.I live in WH's personally, but if CCP could sort this all out, I think I'd seriously consider (moving back to) Nullsec.

    I won't pretend that I'm not looking forward to seeing the other "wank rooms" as some put it, but without decent "space" content, I find it hard to see myself playing this beyond winter...

  6. As a player who has played literally every MMO since UO, and only EVE since Incarna/Carbon Character Creator (March '11) I am already bored with mission running, Incursions and now that I live in nullsec, it's empty most of the time and my alliance has maybe 2-3 active people on for fleeting. I am now the first person in the system after reboots (new) and I'm already finding that I'm just logging in to adjust skill Queue and was one of the passionate players that shot at a statue for 46 hours straight, passionate because EVE is the most visually appealing game I've played, has real depth, isn't a Themepark like Rift and has almost balanced pvp if it's fleet on fleet. I still hate non-consentual highsec pvp but that's another story...

    Great blog, agree and understand the concepts presented and as a former C level executive in an international telecom, understand the mindset and business principles driving the behavior at the top. EVE's problem is Hilmar and a group of investor's he's written checks to with his mouth, that his ass cannot cash.

    Branching into 1 project would have been ok, trying to do WoD before Dust has had it's first iteration was not only foolish, but likely fatal for all their products.

    Unless CCP reverses itself/replaces Hilmar and the teams making allocation decisions we will see the emails from CCP to us begging us to come back ala Funcom.

    Sure they may keep going on personal funding or angel investors to get Dust/WoD delivered but you won't have the type of gamer that fell in love with the romance of EVE and made a successful sandbox, you will have No-Time, themepark gamers that made Zynga popular.

    CCP drastically misjudged their playerbase and trying to impose change for change's sake on us was weapons-grade stupid.

    Solutions/What we can do

    Continue to support the CSM in the event CCP hits a magic alarm subscriber count and pauses one of their deliverables to bring EVE back to life or sells the IP off to someone who can rejuvinate the title (Mythic Entertainment is attempting to do the same thing for UO, unsuccessfully)

    Continue to cancel your subs with explicit parting dialog in the quit form as to why you cancel ( keeping in mind you can come back later )

    Continue to not log in ( although you are paying for the service this makes us/me look silly, they are getting the money either way and probably feel they are still "on track" )

    Continue the media push including volunteer article's to IGN/TTH/Stratics/Blue's/Joystiq/etc

    Maybe we can pull this off, maybe not but at least we aren't just walking away like most players. Those of us who are passionate about our product are few and far between with all the choices available.

    CCP claims to be innovative and fearless, if this is the case, be fearless and cease production on WoD and use the paddles on EVE and really let it bloom. If there is one thing the world does NOT need is yet another Vampire anything. Real innovative and fearless CCP..


  7. If I could add anything to this, I would, but you've said it all in the most efficient manner I can think of. Kudos.

  8. Take a bow sir..... take a bow...

    I am one of those people just every day looking at my desktop, seeing the eve icon, and just thinking mehhhh.

    I stay subscribed at this point out of purely blind hope, and faith in their rank and file to just maybe deliver us something.

  9. This is the BEST summary of the current situation in EVE. You nailed it perfectly.

  10. Very well put. hopefully you and the other CSM member can continue to support those within CCP with similar perspectives.

    All other responses to the post became way too long for the comment line. I think many more of of have a lot to say here.

  11. Brilliantly put, but I fear all far far to late. Even if Greyscale got the support he needs CCP are what, 1 year away, from implementing any of that - let alone ALL of it?!

    EVEs a boredom sink now, Ive unsub'd with 3 months to go as frankly there are better games to play out there, and some nice ones on the horizon (Deus Ex, Skyrim, GW2 etc)

    CCP have lost the true path chasing butterflies through the woods and there's almost nothing they can do now to recover. Maybe DUST will save them, but I doubt it.


  12. I have now bought one more year of EVE Online. If CCP doesn't get their respective heads out of their asses, it will be my final year as a capsuleer.

    No, you can not have my stuff.

    To the honor of our ancestors.

  13. I unsubbed a few months back, and I still do not regret it with all that I have read and seen out of the Eve community. I want to come back. I want the magic back that inspired me to spent almost 130 hours in a single week in a wormhole. I want to get on and roam with the friends I made years ago. But, with the state of the game and the utter lack of interest from the developer, I can't anymore.

    I loved the post and agree with it completely, and honestly it shows most of WHY I unsubbed. I was just tired and bored of Eve. I had 3 accounts, with a combined 70M SP, so I was no pubbie... I had just felt like I did it all, and had no reason left to cling to a dying vestige of what had once been, inequivocably, my favorite game of all time. So I left, with some choice parting words, and have looked back many-a-time to see if I can return.

    Hopefully CCP gets their act together, but... I don't see it happening unless more opinions like this are presented

  14. What I found dead on about this post is the critique of CCP's level of passion and their ability to execute on promised functionality. The two are very closely related. I don't think we would be having this dialog if CCP was able to execute on the vision that was sold to us.

    You look at the Fanfest keynotes and other sessions and there is an obvious disconnect between what's said there and what the functionality is that materializes. CCP needs to sell that vision to sell subscriptions. But when you consistently over promise and under deliver vs. under promise and over deliver you put yourself in long term trouble.

    Most here say the game is about space ships and that is true to a degree. What they are actually attempting to sell is the idea of placing yourself at the center of whatever sci-fi reality you can imagine. That's much broader and why I actually play.

    Incarna, at least the vision of it, was to extend the possibilities of that reality (i.e. establishments, etc.). What we got instead was a cell and reduced functionality.

    I get the vision. I think the issue here for me and many others is you can't ignore half developed features and create an alpha version for a new direction people can go in the game and expect people to embrace it.

    CCP has put themselves in a hard spot. Do you follow through on the Incarna vision or go back to the half developed features everyone is screaming about?

    Because you've put yourself in this spot and your player base is in jeopardy you have to do both. Protect the golden goose. CCP, put the time/passion/money/right resources into fixing the disconnect between vision and reality.

    Being in the software industry I can tell you delivering on what you say you're going to do is sometimes very difficult, but you're not in a place where you can do otherwise for the foreseeable future if you want to experience any kind of forward momentum. I love the game. Just want to see the vision become more than vaporware.

  15. I thought this was a very good post, and was quite glad it got moved to other Eve news sites as well like Eve News 24 and Eve Stratics (okay, shameless plug there). But since you have worked with CCP and are currently with the CSM, wouldn't it be proper to essentially call out those at CCP who lost their passion for the game?

  16. am i just being paranoid or does anyone else think that the old forums being frozen is just an effective way to "erase" the record of EVE's prior epicness? Sooooooo much content there...
    new players wont complain if they dont know the magic that once was.
    you can see this already in the "I've only been playing a month but you bittervets are killing the game with this whining!" comments. (This means you Richard Hammond II)

  17. edit: I am so damn satisfied inside b/c i voted for seleene and mittani.
    go me!

  18. add another to the Meh list... I have 1 (of 7 once) active subs.. it runs out in october. I log in once a blue moon to look at fleets in mothballs, dreads without purpose and wish my nights were still consumed with the intrigue and destruction Eve has simply lost.

    flat spin CCP, drastic action is required to recover.

  19. Now you understand why some of us just simply retired from the game. There is no point to it anymore.

    It's sad really. I really liked playing.

  20. Very articulate and well written piece.

    I sure hope someone high up in CCP is listening.

  21. Thank you for your post

    i unsubscribed 10 month ago after 4 years of playing
    will not come back till CCP realize that in a game like EVE, subscribers do have an opinion in game mechanics changes,
    players own the game, CCP just collects the rent

  22. It seems CCP are finally listening, but voices like yours need to remain vocal on these matters to ensure they don't soon forget their new found zeal for the game again. Make sure to keep repeating this over and over so they won't forget.

  23. I was forced out of Eve due to the shader 3 requirements of Incarna NOT DUE TO THE FIS REQUIREMENTS June 21st was the day that Eve died for me. I was able to FiS and even enjoyed the Z
    ombies in Space... to be forced out due to my laptops inability to render SpaceBarbies because Eve became a BETA enviornment for a Vampire LARP sickens me... When I check the latest news that a Fashion desiner for Lady GaGa is the next 'big' thing for Eve just doen't make me want to even contemplate upgrading after all these months out of Eve for a space simulator that has become a Model Runway simulator... I sure pray Elite III by Brabon comes out someday!