It might be just me, but it feels like CCP cannot do two good player events in a row in EVE Online. If they get one that is popular and gets a lot of response, the next one will be… less well received.
That is probably my memory being faulty. I don’t run every event. I know the Federation Grand Prix was a bust. CCP said as much at EVE Vegas. I am not sure how the Dawn of Liberation event went, but the Secrets of the Abyss event seemed to do well, rewarding people for running Abyssal pockets.
I think the contrast here for me is with the Crimson Harvest event we had a while back and the Operation Permafrost event, which kicked off on Monday.
As I wrote previously, I enjoyed the Crimson Harvest event. It wasn’t a complete walk over, but if you fit yourself for it you could mine or zap NPCs to your hearts content, earning points towards rewards and collecting items from wrecks. While I went in for just one SKIN reward, I rediscovered the serenity of mining while listening to a podcast or audio book and ended up going the distance on one character and continuing on with a couple more.
There were a couple of highlights for me when it came to the Crimson Harvest event.
First was the lack of scarcity. When CCP does events based on sites spawning, they tend to be competitive. You race around looking for sites. Then when you find one, you warp in hoping it isn’t in progress yet. And even if you get there first you have to hope somebody won’t warp in and get the last kill and loot the rewards. All of that becomes frustrating if you play during peak hours, and even off peak there always seems to be somebody warping into your site to try and take the big prize. That their bio is always in Russian is probably just a coincidence.
So for Crimson Harvest CCP put two sites in almost every system in New Eden. I think they skipped Jita, though I saw the two in Amarr. So if the site in your system was overrun, you could just move over one and find another. One site in each system was for mining, the other was for fighting NPCs. Each was fairly clearly marked. And, when either site had been run out it would disappear off of the overview and a new one would spawn.
This meant that I could move a half a dozen systems out of Amarr and find a quiet site to mine. The lack of competitiveness also seemed to make people relax and even cooperate on occasion. Other players would mine happily or would chat as they dropped in to knock off any NPCs that happened to be hanging around. It was quite pleasant in a way that events in EVE Online often are not.
The other was how nice the sites looked. CCP, fresh from making all that pretty Abyssal space, went all out to make an autumnal space wonderland, with pumpkin-esque asteroids and bright orange nebulae. I took way too many screen shots.
So the Crimson Harvest event set a quality baseline for me which carried over to the Operation Permafrost event. That was probably my mistake.
But CCP did make it seem like the events would be similar. There was to be the usual tasks to accumulate in The Agency for some prizes. There was a promise of mining… both gas and ore this time… as well as NPCs to tackle and sites to hack. And it was all going in another wonderfully done up skybox with a holiday theme.
The first sign of trouble was how the sites would be distributed. This time around there wouldn’t be one per system, but just on per constellation. Constellations vary in size, but they are rarely smaller than four star systems, so calling it five to be generous, you end up with only 20% of the sites to run that Crimson Harvest had.
Fine, whatever. Crimson Harvest probably had too many sites. One per constellation wasn’t going to be that bad, right?
I got together my Procurer, still knocking about in Amarr space after the Crimson Harvest event, and updated its fit a bit.
Since the NPCs were from Mordus Legion, I made sure I was good versus thermal and kinetic damage and traded out my Acolyte drones for Hornets, the latter dealing kinetic damage. Setup for things, I headed out to find a place to mine.
Once I found a site… The Agency tells me many things, but which system in a constellation has the event site is not one of those things… I warped to it and found three gates.
The gates were labeled North, East, and West. I knew that they aligned to mining, hacking, and combat focused areas, but which was which wasn’t clear to me and, once again, The Agency wasn’t helping me out. So I chose a gate… the North gate, since it was closest, and took it.
I was accelerated into warp, through a white out of my screen, and into a very bright white atmospheric setting.
And while I am not going to complain about that as much as people were on the forums, it is a bit of a change for those were are used to the dark of space. It is not the mellow black and orange of the Crimson Harvest.
On arriving after the north gate I found my overview loaded with NPCs. This was clearly the PvE slaughter house.
I warped back to the marker and took the East gate. That dropped me in the midst of a bunch of hackable structures. There were also some NPCs to keep people on their toes, but the theme here was clear.
Back to the marker once more and then into the West gate. That took me to what appeared to be mostly empty space. There were a few NPCs around that immediately sent some missiles my way, but the site was otherwise empty.
I sent my drones off to take them out, which wasn’t too tough. The Procurer was able to tank the incoming damage well enough.
But I hadn’t come out to zap NPCs with my drones. I didn’t mind doing that as a side task, but I came out to get in some meditative mining time. So I left that constellation and moved on to the next. There I found pretty much the same situation. So I moved on again… and then again… and once more before I finally found a single unmined asteroid in an event site. It was hanging in space about 300km from my warp in and my heavy tanked Procurer didn’t have a propulsion module to help scoot it along.
At that point I started looking online to see what was up with the mining aspect of the event. Was I trailing behind some fleet of locusts? Should I look elsewhere or just hang about hoping for a respawn.
As it turned out, the mining segment of the event only respawns at downtime. That mean that while I am still asleep the server repopulates all the mining sites. Then I get up, go to work, have lunch, work some more, come home, talk with my wife, listen to my daughter complain about school, have dinner, maybe watch a bit of TV, all before finally logging in about 18 hours after downtime. During that interval pretty much everybody living in time zones to the east of me has had the opportunity to mine out all the sites, so that by the time I show up there are just the leftover asteroid or two, too far away from the warp in to even bother with.
So I set a course back to Jita. I didn’t have any combat ships out in Amarr space for my alt so I figured I would head back there to put something together. That Drake I use for events sometimes was there.
Hinging the event, or at least the mining aspect of the event, on downtime feels like a bit of a mistake to me. That gave me a flavor of my old high sec mining days when several European corps used to mine out several whole systems every day before I got home, so I ended up having to move out to the hinterlands in order to find a ready supply of rocks.
I might try the combat aspect of the whole thing, but the mining portion of the event turned out to be a bust for me. And I know I’ll be able to pick up the SKINs on the market soon enough anyway, so I might just leave it at that.
Further early opinions about the event are available over at The Nosy Gamer.