CSM13 Summer Summit Minutes and How War Decs are Killing EVE

CCP Larrikin pulls up activity data for players of corporations that have wars declared against them and it shows considerable activity drops in all activities during the war. They also show that the low activity continues after the war ends. Brisc Rubal noted that the numbers here were so stark, it would justify immediately removing war decs as a mechanic and promising a fix after the fact. The CSM in general were surprised at how stark the numbers were and noted it was clear this mechanic was having a significant impact on player recruitment and retention.

CSM13 Summer Summit Minutes, Economy Discussion

I ebb and flow in my interest in the CSM, which in its way reflects CCP’s own wavering commitment to the institution over the years.  And, of course, the topics being discussed and how much information we get affects my interest as well.  Some of the summit minutes have so much redacted that what is left just isn’t worth getting worked up about.

Not the space police, just the non-binding space oversight committee

This time around there were actually a few interesting topics.  The key one for me was war declarations, or war decs.  These have been complained about since I started playing EVE Online back in 2006.

There is a whole section devoted to war decs in the minutes, reflective of there being a dedicated session on the topic.  The minutes from that are somewhat interesting.  That section of the minutes opens with a pretty ominous note:

In the EVE Leadership meeting the CSM was presented with numbers resulting from research
into the state of war declarations in EVE and those numbers quite starkly showed how
asymmetric the situation is, and how war declarations allow a small number of players to
negatively affect a huge number of people, with low risk.

After that, however, the discussion in the minutes goes the way it has always gone.  Everybody knows war decs are a problem but there are always reasons why CCP won’t get rid of them completely.  Along with the all-time greatest hit, “we don’t want high sec space to be completely safe,” there is now the problem of Upwell structures which litter New Eden.  Without high sec war decs you can’t blow those up.

So the discussion flowed through a set of ideas guided by that, with talk of costs and victory conditions and the like.  The session notes end with a mention of how war decs favor the aggressor, how corporations who get war dec’d tend to just stop playing when there is a war going on, and how some organizations like Red Frog avoid the whole thing.

There was no real indication about a future plan for war decs or whether or not CCP would do anything about them in the foreseeable future.  While disappointing, that was hardly unexpected.  CCP hasn’t like the war dec situation forever so far as I can tell but hasn’t done much save tinker with it over the years.

The minutes then move on to the session on the economy where starts off CCP Larrikin by confirming that the current level of NPC bounty payouts is not sustainable and that most of it comes from carrier and super carrier ratting.  No surprise there.

It isn’t until the second page of the economy section, a point by which I am sure some people have already uttered, “yadda yadda yadda” and moved on to the next section, that we come to the paragraph with which I chose to open this post.

I chose that quote for a reason.  It takes away a lot of the ambiguity about war decs.

If you’re paying attention, you will hear people complain about war decs.  It tends to be anecdotal information.  Somebody got war dec’d and it sucked.  But somebody always has a story about how something in the game sucked, so how do you assign a priority to it?

Well, the CSM saw the data, and maybe CCP will share it with the rest of us at some future date, but the reaction seems to be enough.  War decs kill corps and CCP knows it, and likely has known it for some time.  Furthermore it is bad enough that CCP put the following line in the meeting minutes that they themselves edited:

…it was clear this mechanic was having a significant impact on player recruitment and retention.

CCP endorsed that statement by putting it in the minutes.  Remember that.

What is the all time, long term problem for EVE Online?  If you said, “player recruitment and retention” you get a prize.

Which brings me back to the section of the minutes that was specifically about war decs and the decided lack of urgency that comes through on the whole topic.  The discussion reads to me like it is a topic that needs to be fixed eventually, but which they can get to in the fullness of time when they have the ideal solution.  That quote from the economy section makes this seem like much more of a “hair on fire, do something now!” situation.  If it is really that bad, I’m with Brisc; turn the feature off.  We can live without war decs for six months or a year if it stops driving players away.

There are other parts of the minutes worth looking through.  The economy section, as noted, is worth a read.  There was also a whole session about the new player experience that explains, in part, why CCP ditched the epic NPE experience for the current version based in The Agency, something I wrote about last month.

And there was a discussion of the updated customer support policies, marketing and recruiting and community outreach which are likely worth a read.

But for me the primary take away from the 53 pages of minutes is that high sec war decs are bad for the game, CCP knows this (and has likely known this for a long time), and yet they are still dithering about a solution.  I’d be hard pressed to come up with something more important for them to look into given the statement in the minutes.

Addendum: Others covering the minutes

16 thoughts on “CSM13 Summer Summit Minutes and How War Decs are Killing EVE

  1. Nosy Gamer

    I think there may not be a lot of push back from the CSM on the subject of war decs. They seem to be fixated on the subject of server stability. I’m sure they’d love to have Crimewatch pared down, if not turned off completely, during fleet battles. Plus, with the MER showing how null sec (specifically Delve) is outperforming high sec, that old argument seems to have faded a lot.

    And perhaps my desire to see NPCs attack structures in order to combat citadel spam will come to pass after all. That’s one way to control structures in high sec.

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  2. anypo8

    Several new players and I quit playing EVE six months ago largely as the result of the hisec newbie corp I started having its Astrahus and Raitaru blown up by wardeccers.

    There was a whole bunch of drama involved, but the tl;dr is that we were reinforced during a time when it was entirely unreasonable for us to be able to respond because of real-life time commitments. We had deliberately placed our Citadel in a really out-of-the-way spot and were a peaceful corp whose sole purpose was for new players to experience EVE. The wardeccers got nothing of value from it except killboard: no assets changed hands, in spite of the usual extortion requests and “assistance” contract offers from “unallied” corps.

    I’ve been playing for several years now, and had risen to a position of reasonable importance in a prominent corp on my main. This was kind of a last straw, but it was definitely entirely unpleasant. Will I come back to EVE? Maybe — I’m still subbed — but probably not.

    I’m trying to get a blog post up on this: I’ll try to remember to link it when I do.

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  3. anypo8

    It is an interesting question what would happen to EVE retention in the short term if CCP deleted wardecs today. There are large swaths of active EVE players whose entire lifestyle is built around wardeccing: presumably a lot them would quit. I suspect that’s the main reason why CCP is equivocating.

    Let’s face it: at this point, CCP doesn’t have the resources or the will to make major changes. Milking the cash cow is pretty easy, and it would take pretty serious leadership to do a grand revamp.

    Effectively removing jams was a big surprise to me, and that’s a change a couple of orders of magnitude smaller than the kinds of changes CCP would need to make to really turn the corner. (I hate the way they did that change, BTW: no advance discussion that I saw as an inactive player who follows the meta online; no compensation for the millions of skill points I put into now-useless skills; no substitute for the EC-300s that I commonly used to try to escape from aggressors.)

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  4. Jacob C. Edwards

    I’ve always found the epic scale of EVE interesting. The politics and stories that come out of that community are gold. The game has so many parts and niches that any action or lack of action is bound to upset at least some of the player base. For developers its essentially a cost-benefit analysis at that point.

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  5. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    @Nosy Gamer – Certainly, given the composition of the CSM and the recent war, server performance was going to be on the list. And CCP would very much like to make server performance better if they can. They want null sec to continue having wars and big fights. It is the one in-game thing that gets them press on a fairly regular basis. There is no further Guinness Book of Records recognition waiting for CCP if they fix war decs.

    On the flip side, who cares what the CSM thinks? We have certainly seen CCP ignore their priorities and wishes in the past. And what further endorsement would CCP need to fix things in any case? The minutes have the CSM reacting in a way that would seem to green light CCP taking immediate steps ahead of other issues. We didn’t get to see the data that CCP showed, but I assume Brisc Rubal did not suggest turning off war decs until they had a solution lightly.

    If anything, I am wondering about CCP on this issue. Here they have an issue thwarting one of their essential goals, they know the situation is bad, they have data proving it is bad now and probably has been for a long stretch, but they’re willing to just leave it in place until they can come up with a better idea. When ever that is. While the minutes are poor at conveying tone and emotion, the likely length of time that war decs have been a problem certainly indicates a casual lack of urgency around the issue.

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  6. Arya

    Am I missing something?, the cost of war Decs is too low, only the Griefers seem to do this for the lulz, I suggest that the cost to dec a Corp should be at least 100billion isk and at least 1trillion isk for alliances, that should reduce the amount of Decs to Corps in high sec, if it doesn’t double or triple the cost, most of the corps that dec can afford this as been in the game a long time and probably have ratting super carriers in null sec…..

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  7. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    @Arya – I’d rather CCP just turn the feature off, or make it “mutual war decs only” for now rather than make it something only rich, null sec groups can afford. I think that would send the wrong message even if, from my experience, null sec groups tend to be targets of war decs rather than instigators most of the time. Groups like GSF and my own alliance, TNT, are pretty much perma-war dec’d by groups looking for easy kills on the Jita undock.

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  8. Mailvaltar

    I’ve been on both ends of war decs and can’t say they’ve ever provided for (my definition of) good gameplay.

    Yes, even on the attacker’s side. I was in Noir. once, a mercenary corp now part of MC. Before the merger we did smaller contracts, mostly to harass some corp or alliance and destroy as much of their assets as possible. If those people lived in high sec we decced them of course. And what do you know, they simply wouldn’t undock anymore and sit it out. Granted, this was before citadels; nowadays you can at least shoot their structures if they don’t come out to play, but still.

    If it’s boring for the attackers and drives the attacked away from the game, get rid of it.

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  9. Arya

    @Tagn isn’t that a good thing? that only the nullsec alliances can afford the Dec’s or the rich?, makes it more of a leet thing for he PVP’rs…. Also gives CCP another sink to combat all the ratting in Delve, as those ratters in the supers won’t like there shiny toys nerfed when the bat comes out soon…. I’ve been on both sides of the war Decs, usually hole up for the week do some stuff with the family for a while, also decced a Corp to take there pos guns as they where long dead and the pos was littering the system to earn some isk

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  10. Mailvaltar

    @ Arya: I’m not fond of having features only available to the super rich either, for a number of reasons.
    Also, in most cases nullsec folks don’t actually need wardecs, where they and their enemies live they can shoot whatever they want anyway. ;-)

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  11. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    @Arya – That only semi-solves the war dec problem and ends up looking like CCP totally favors null sec, which is a perception problem CCP already has. Can’t see that being a good thing.

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  12. Pingback: CSM13 Summer Summit Minutes and How War Decs are Killing EVE | New Eden Report

  13. Arya

    But isn’t that the case that CCP favours null sec?, been playing 10years nearly, it does seem that way but pulls in the punters. You have the council of null sec management pushing there agendas, having read the summit minutes and found it amusing that none of them run the events, so don’t interact with the lag fest of the agency window or the click fest of the hacking game, shows that they are out of touch with the PVE’s who want to enjoy that side in high sec, have a young family so only get if I’m lucky an hour a day, so the events now have become a bit tedious to run with all the extra clicks… but at the end of the day as you say, make the Decs mutual or increase the cost so to limit corps deccing too many or even limit corps to one dec at a time at a substantially increased cost, 50mil is peanuts to dec a Corp.

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  14. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    @Arya – Certainly a lot of people say CCP favors null sec, but how do you measure it? A lot of content goes into the game that is pretty much high sec and PvE focused. You may not like The Agency… I know I don’t… but that was built for high sec PvE. I don’t think you get to discount things you don’t like when you start talking about who CCP favors. The last expansion, Into the Abyss, was pretty much all about PvE content that takes just 20 minutes to run. Problem solved?

    I don’t think CCP spends any more time on null sec than Blizzard does on raiding in WoW, which is to say probably more per player than other content, but it is content that gets press which is, overall, good for the game.

    And that still leaves the whole idea that PvE content can be anything but boring and repetitive. PvE in any MMORPG is pretty much that way, with “kill some guys,” “go bring me back a thing,” and “go bring a thing to somebody else” making up most of the options. Theme park games like WoW get away with it by wrapping it in story, nice scenery, a bit of humor, and a whole lot of progression. That last is the key. We will apparently go kill ten rats over and over and over again if it will just level us up, open up access to something else, or earn us points with a faction that will sell us a pretty mount once we’re exalted.

    PvE needs progression incentives for people to run it and it gets boring unless it is constantly given a slightly different context.

    EVE Online, having gone sandbox, doesn’t have much in the way of progression. Even some bits they had in the past has fallen by the wayside. I ground up my standings up with Amarr and Caldari because you used to need to have an 8.0 or greater standing with them to put a jump clone in their stations. But CCP got rid of that and you can put a jump clone in an NPC station now so long as it has cloning services and you have the infomorph psychology skill. So the only progression you’re left with is ISK per hour.

    I have asked the question “What does better PvE look like in EVE Online?” a few times and the answers are always either vague or sound remarkably like what is already there, only more so. And all of that isn’t helped by the fact that most PvE players don’t like risk. They want a sure win with a guaranteed reward at the end that is fun and interesting no matter how many times they do it. Good luck with that.

    And, yes, electing the CSM is dumb. I’ve said that since its inception. Elections favor large organized groups and guess where you find most of those? And the change to the STV model, which was supposed to make things better, actually made things worse. If it wasn’t for the fact that CCP has demonstrated time and again that they don’t listen to the CSM very often I could see people being mad about that. You can have as much influence as any member of the CSM with a well reasoned post in the forums.

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  15. Arya

    @Wilhelm. A good question how do you measure that CCP favours nullsec?, it’s a perception based on the CSM, forums and blogs, yours is the most active eve blog there is now, followed by nosy and rixx’s, totaleve some days only has yours in the blog pack list, many have gone over the years. Yours which is one of the best out there, is mainly when talking about eve is nullsec based. Other EVE blogs arn’t about much now, so the perception is now more about nullsec based. The pirate Lowsec blogs long gone, along with wormhole/highsec just arnt there any more.

    The Agency I think is a good idea in my opinion, but the implementation could be better executed, my guess is that as the client is only 32bit doesn’t multi thread well, so when opening the agency window the game freezes as not 64Bit or multithreaded. This is not helpful when running the Absymal sites during that event even on T1/2’s, click to open, freeze, click to claim reward, lag…. not making it fun. I have run upto T5 on the Test Server, but only run T1/2’s on the main site, as am risk adverse as the perma death is a pain. My son who is a crappy sleeper, will wake if a pin drops so have to put him back to sleep if he wakes if the wife is doing a lesson, we have had arguments as he has been crying whilst waiting to finish the last room so won’t lose the blingy ship just to do a T2 site. T1/2 Sites can be done in under 10minutes, same with the events but with those I can just drop what I am doing and sort son out. My opinion is T1-3 should just drop you back to k space if you run out of time, the loot is crap anyway. I like the new content but guaranteeing 20minutes uninterrupted time at the moment limits my ability to run anything higher than T3.

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