Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Blog banter: The limit is the sky

I don't like people who can't think out of the box and just want to optimize the possibilities inside the box. I've never joined a blog banter before, but now I just have to comment. The consensus seems to be that EVE simply reached its limits and there are no more people who "Like/tolerate MMOs. That like/tolerate monthly subscription fees. That like Sci-fi games. Spaceships. Player versus Player emphasis. Single shards. Real consequences. Open markets. Allowed scamming and stealing. The HTFU culture." Game over, EVE was already tried by everyone who could possibly like it.

Bullshit! EVE has huge potential to grow and its failure to do so is completely a marketing one. In EVE you can play variety of ways. Yet, in the trailers and news pieces there is always a small minority and its preferred gameplay is shown: the PvP-ers, usually large-fleet PvP-ers. EVE is already played by explorers and achievers despite they aren't even recognized by CCP and simply seen as "newbies" who should be converted into "real EVE players". I can't believe it that I am reminding CCP that their game is a sandbox which can be played in various ways. People who could become satisfied EVE players don't give it a chance because they are under the false impression that EVE a non-consensual PvP game. The truth is that you can completely avoid PvP. I've never lost a single ship in almost two years which wasn't intentionally looking for it by leaving highsec or attacking other players first.

EVE could gain huge amount of players, simply by marketing the game to such players and giving them some breadcrumbs to find this content. I'd like to emphasize that such change does not need any mechanics change affecting existing players. One of the fears of the PvP-er minority is that CCP will "make EVE safe to harbor WoW players". EVE obviously needs to be changed to harbor more players, but none of the changes are needed to be done to you. If Concord response time would be halved, the life of gankers would be twice as hard, numerically. If highsec wardecs would be removed, highsec wardeccers couldn't play. If shooting corpmates would be removed, awoxers couldn't play. If lowsec gateguns would be buffed, life of gatecampers would be made harder, numerically. These are the things they fear and these are the things CCP do not need to do.

What CCP first needs to do is giving the PvE players controls over their own actions. Most "highsec PvP" happens when someone is doing something he did not mean to do, because of some obscure mechanic. Perfect example: jetcan named "gift to newbies" before the safety settings: the decision of the player was to not steal and he became a thief by not knowing that "gift to newbies" is just a title and not affecting rights of the container. Further controls should be given to players, along with more obvious notifications for dangerous actions. Like a safety setting that prevents the player from shooting a suspect or outlaw. Currently you can do it with green settings, getting into limited engagement (and death). Players should be explicitly warned that joining player corporations leads to wardecs and awoxes. Undocking a ship with bad ISK/EHP ratio should also trigger a warning box. The player can of course OK the dialog and even check the "no longer ask", but then he can only blame himself. Safety settings themselves should have warning boxes along the line "If some player suggested you to set it this way, he probably just want to kill you. Do not proceed unless you really want to perform an action that will allow other players to shoot you / CONCORD destroy your ship". Upon all death there should be an explanation window telling you what mechanic allowed this death, like "You died to a war target. You can only prevent war targets shooting you by not undocking when your corporation is at war or by leaving to the NPC corp".

Secondly, CCP should implement achievements to serve as breadcrumbs to existing content. There isn't much to do in the game if you don't want to PvP and already have more ISK than you can spend. So here are some completely cosmetic points (maybe with cosmetic rewards like clothing, captain quarters furniture and stuff) if you keep playing and especially if you take "losses". All achievements can be gained by PvE in highsec. Some examples of achievements:
  • Real Caldari: 9.0 Caldari state rep
  • Revered with X: 9.0 rep with X NPC corp.
  • The perfect Raven Navy: build a Raven Navy with Caldari faction fittings everywhere, and place it in the achievement interface. This grants you the achievement and takes the ship, giving half of the modules back. Economy-wise it's a ship loss, but the "loser" is not upset.
Since there are several factions in highsec (including SOE, Thrukker, Khanid), hundreds of corporations, and dozens of ships to "perfect", one can spend years getting them all, being a player, subscriber, participant of the economy and even a suicide gank target.

"But, but, I want to awox them or suspect-bait them and kill their almost-perfect Navy Raven!" Well, the answer is not "too bad". The answer is "you can't do it anyway". I mean, you can't awox them now, because they aren't playing EVE.

Make these changes, run a large marketing campaign and multiply the playerbase of EVE!



A little update on Darwins Lemmings, 2 days into the war:

20 comments:

Anonymous said...

IMO, a more precise comment is that EVE could relatively easily increase the game but doing so would lose a large majority of the existing players.

Essentially, CCP has found customers that will be unhappy if CCP tries to make more money.

So CCP can

back away from the existing customers and expand EVE

or

let EVE be a stable cash cow and use the EVE profits towards funding Valkyrie and console and WoD and some inevitable mobile games.

Herbinator said...

Mmmm, maybe not.

Eve is big AND intricate AND interesting. Simply open these aspects up to Carebears. This allows even new entrants to participate in Eve's cool stuff.

A) a way to by-pass gate camps such as a hyperdrive module allowing system-to-system travel over the course of 2 or 3 days;
B) Industrial ships immune to bubbles;
C) Abandoned POS becoming salvageable thus reclaiming moons;
D) A shuttle to get PI onto planets so they can't be totally locked out;
E) Smaller the wardecing corp, smaller the wardec cost (perhaps even a numerator/denominator relationship);
F) A new type of Mission where Agents assign a person to a slot (ship temporarily provided) in a Racial fleet thus allowing a carebear to combat fly ships normally beyond reach.
G) Mini, less efficient, fully functioning POSs.

The gist is to make Eve's inaccessibilities accessible.

Dado R. said...

I like that you are trying to get more players to play EVE. I also think that article was a bunch of bullshit. To claim that a product has exhausted all potential customers especially for a niche game like EVE is just plain ignorant. For instance where I live, where lan shops are numerous and abound, maybe less than 1% of gamers have even heard about EVE, let alone play it.

But I also disagree that your methods are any good either. What is the point of getting more people into the game if they don't interact with other people? They are as good as NPC's. The argument that this will bring more revenue to CCP and thus more money channeled to development, is also false historically. Taking that slippery slope of catering to carebears and casuals will get you monocole gate and pandas. Even the mighty WOW is bleeding subscriptions with that approach, at least EVE is still going strong.

Anonymous said...

Dado R.: "What is the point of getting more people into the game if they don't interact with other people?"

You're making a mistake of assuming that only "valid" player-to-player interaction is when they either shoot at each other, or are in a fleet together shooting at someone else. Even complete carebears who will spend their entire EVE career in highsec need ships, modules, ammo. They will interact with other players and the game through the market. You can interact with people through local chat without ever undocking from the station. You can compete in highsec with trading, exploration, deadspace.

Anonymous said...

While I'm not 100% of some of the details, I really agree with the main trust of your post - EVE could grow with better marketing and clearer new player guidance.

I also REALLY like your point how we don't need to make Concord better etc to make this happen. Gankers should be on board with this - more players means more targets, after all.

One of your best blog entries thus far.

LR

Lucas Kell said...

Honestly, from what people outside EVE say about EVE, they really don't like the HTFU nature of the game. When I started many many years ago, ganking and scamming still happened, but unlike now it was not constant. Essentially what has happened is the community as cycled again and again, with the "regular" players dropping and scammers and gankers wanting to stick around. Honestly, I don't think anything can undo that damage.

If they do want to reach the larger playerbase though, they do have to make ganking, scamming and awoxing harder, and honestly I don;t mind if they do. Ganking for example is way too easy. It's easy for people to say "HTFU noob, I can gank if I want", but ganking is pretty much easier than the majority of other tasks, so IMHO it should be given more punishments, and its the gankers that should learn to HTFU.

Awoxing needs to be sorted, as it keeps people from forming corps, which is a massive barrier. NPC corps are dull, but joining a player corp just means you are putting yourself in a position to get shot. That ability should be stopped or at least a corp option. And again, sure, awoxers would be sad, but again, HTFU. Awoxing high sec corps hardly takes effort.

Honestly, I think that most of these people that go up in arms when people suggest making the game easier for noobs and demand that the game should be severely punishing and challenging need to take a realistic look at their own challenges and punishments.

Anonymous said...

You are already given a Hookbill when you reach 8.5 in Caldari standings, a Caracal Navy Issue when you reach 9.2 and a Raven Navy Issue when you reach 9.9.

(Same for all other empire and pirate factions - except for SoE - you can run missions for).

Tom Hoffman said...

I'll just throw this in because GG is the last EVE blog I read after stopping playing four or five years ago.

CCP needs to give people a reason to build real space empires, and the motivation should be simple enough. Announce that highsec is getting mined out and steadily decrease the amount of resources in highsec. Announce that non-capsuleer economic growth is putting pressure on highsec industrial capacity and that the number of production and research slots is going down and their cost is going up.

Buff production in player created outposts and stations.

I know that's probably been said 1000x.

Sandboxer said...

I like to compare EVE to the real world.
There you have a majority of people happily following rules and orders given by their leaders (laws and work).
However, some (few) people want to do their own business, making their own rules.
Groups like RvB, Brave Newbies, Eve-Uni and even Goonswarm are doing a good job by giving those typical employees work to do and a home.
Let's take GSF: I think maybe 100 players in GSF are playing a sandbox game while 10000+ players are playing a themepark MMO - both groups are enjoying it.

The CSM summer minutes, economy part II, tried to analyze this.
CCP says that player who come to EVE due to social connections (forums, blogs, friends,...) tend to stay longer while other players leave and when asked say they don't know what a sandbox is and they are not interested in.

If I take a look at my 7 employees I can't believe they would enjoy EVE. They do what I tell them to do and go to "stand by" if I miss to give them new tasks.
How could they enjoy a game where they have to make their own plan and are responsable for what they achieve or not?

That's why I think EVE is very special and therefore lacks potential customers.

And by the way, the Rubicon trailer is about exploration and doesn't show fleet fights or PvP. Same vor the Odyssey trailer (as far as I remember).

Woody said...

EVE will never have wider appeal.

As I said after trying it recently, you could massively increase the player base but the changes required would create a different game to the one you have now.

EVE has niche appeal. Do you want EVE or WoW in Space? WoW in space could quadruple paying subscribers or provide a steady stream of cash shop revenue.

I personally felt the marketing made the game look more exciting than it was. Yeah sure that applies to most games but EVE had the greatest gulf between adverts and reality.

Media and community reports paint a bad picture of the personality of existing EVE players that will deter the wider audience.

That was confirmed to me during a tutorial that turned out to be bugged - I asked for advice and met a torrent of insults from ill informed vets who clearly had some kind of social disorder or major attitude problem.

Poor game (for the masses) and a poor community.

But you like it that way. You quit WoW so why turn EVE into WoW?

daniel said...

my friends don't want to join eve, though they understand that it's cool, they are totally turned of by the clickedyclick that is eve.

speaking, the amount of time one has to dedicate to play eve properly - it is one of those games that you either do fulltime, or not.

woody:
"I personally felt the marketing made the game look more exciting than it was."

this
and
this

"Poor game (for the masses) and a poor community."


yet it's a great game.

daniel said...

ps:

@ lucas, i do noth think that eve mechanics for asshats need to be changed, i think the game just needs to provide better info to the newbie.

e.g. when i came to the game, i started reading the wiki, found the part about jetcan mining, and tried. it worked. but i got robbed (some of the most beautiful tears i ever shed).
though the wiki told me about jetcan mechanics, it didn't tell me that that would expose my property to pirates.

a dedicated wiki section about scamming.
a beginner tutorial that is forcing you to read through the wiki, e.g. with a multiple choice test afterwards.

other example, the new tractor units, why would it be so bad to properly inform highseccers about the implications of the units getting shot.
like in an understandable text. not everyone likes to be reading through forums, to find and understand that particular mechanic.
new update, ticker in the launcher, big !!! "guys, beware, using that unit causes xy".
instead we get a shitty written article by marlonna about how stupid other ppl are.

jstk said...

I don't really agree with them advertising eve as a multifaceted and/or pve game at all, simply because it lacks several qualities to be worth playing as one consistently. Despite eve being a sandbox game, everyone knows it's mostly a spaceship shooting sandbox. Other activities such as mining, trading and alike are mostly there so that gains and losses have a meaning in the world of shooting spaceships. I don't think they are going to gain any customers by dumbing down highsec, or advertising eve as an exploration or PVE game. That would be outright lying, and people would just quit the game before the tril runs out.

namestnik said...

Translated into Russian with a link to the source, hope you won't mind.

http://namestnik.livejournal.com/84643.html

Satori Okanata said...

I was a very succesful WoW player who got bored to death by the panda crap, and as I was a regular reader of this blog, decided to move to EVE. As a very new player (4 months or so) I have noticed several things about this game, being one of those that "sandbox" for most of the eve player means "you can be an asshole" other thing I noticed is that the game economy is based not in spaceship killing, but in resource gathering as the resources needed to build ships are not NPC seeded, still the hardcore players call this people "noobs", "carebears", "high sec assholes" etc. Without thinking that because of the work of those resource gatherers they can afford the ships they love to break appart, if there where no carebears, ships would cost several times what they can't afford right now and have to join a corp to get for free, as most of the players I've met in the game are poor.

Definitely I agree with both, gevlon's post, and Lucas Kell's comment. This time both of you are right.

Anonymous said...

I don't know about other ex-players reasons, but I quit EVE after playing approx. 6 months because it was not "twitchy" enough and did not have enough in-combat skill oriented plays (skill shots, etc, I'm not discounting the strategy component is there via counter-fits and alignments).

Two simple ideas would probably bring me back. Speed up ship flying substantially and make the combat feel closer to something like Star Wars or Wing Commander.

Tie skill points increases to character actions while keeping the out-of-game skill increasing system in place. For example, if I'm training Mining 5, I can make it train 5% faster by actually mining. CCP could apply this to almost every skill and potentially satisfy veterans, new players, and those against "afk" performers.

Relating back to this blog post, EVE has tremendous potential, but loses a large potential player base (IMO) by ignoring twitch play and generally speeding up the connection between an action and a reward.

Anonymous said...

Eve's biggest enemy are the players. You can go over to Shittani.com and read another long winded article about how nothing needs to change when it comes to high sec mechanics. According to the hack author of that piece, the new player experience is fully to blame. It is mind blowing that someone would make the claim that new players leaving has everything to do with tutorials and nothing to do with getting their new shiny ship they worked weeks to buy, blown the fuck up thanks to an obscure mechanic that others can exploit. These shitbag players do all they can to ruin the new player experience for every single person who tries the game. All under the guise of "creating content". The fact of the matter is that they should be creating their content out in nullsec with the other killboard watching crybabies.

Have any of you ever heard a grown man cry over Teamspeak about the corp killboard? It is breathtakingly hilarious and sad at the same time. But these are the types of people you are dealing with, they have real issues. And any change in mechanics that affects their self esteem generates an emotional reaction that ranges from ragequit to lashing out to writing yet another shit stained diatribe for Mittani.com.

Anonymous said...

I've been playing the game for years, stoping playing and returning back.
The problem (for me) is the slow development your character has.
If you are a casual player with not enough free time and you add the long time you need to train to fly something "properly".
Whats the point of "wowwww... Only 4 months to fly what I want!".
No sense for me.
I want to enjoy a game, not spend my spare time making plan for achieve something in 1 year... in a GAME.


Chris K. said...

@Lukas

If they do want to reach the larger playerbase though, they do have to make ganking, scamming and awoxing harder, and honestly I don;t mind if they do. Ganking for example is way too easy. It's easy for people to say "HTFU noob, I can gank if I want", but ganking is pretty much easier than the majority of other tasks, so IMHO it should be given more punishments, and its the gankers that should learn to HTFU.

While generally most sane people would agree with you, if a dev even tries to suggest this in the forums you'd have rioting that will make the monoclegate look like a field trip.

CCP has dug its own grave here, by marketing the game as a HTFU experience. By catering almost entirely to the pvp 'wolves', the 'sheep' have left to get their MMO fix elsewhere and the playerbase has staled.

The majority of the veterans simply do not want the status quo to change because at the slightest hint that they will lose they 'worked' so hard to get over the years, shit will suddenly get real.

As an ex EVE player that would love to roam around and do exploration and industry, all of the above is why I'm never coming back, ever.

Anonymous said...

I cut my MMO teeth on Space Merchant. Eve is much more cuddly. I'm more of a PvE player. I'm on the fence about staying because the missions are so repetitive. If CCP added 100 new missions i bet more people would stay longer than 6 months.

Subscribe to the goblinish wisdom