Daily Archives: November 20, 2021

New Dawn heralds Permanent Scarcity in New Eden

The dev blog for New Dawn, the so-called “age of prosperity,” dropped a week back and the reaction has been… vigorous.

Prosperity Promised

Those digesting the dev blog came up with a number of issues, and the hits just keep coming as people try out New Dawn on the test server.

In the face of player backlash, including a protest in Jita that brought the system down to 10% time dilation as angry players shot the monument, CCP went to MMORPG.com, their current go-to site to tell their side of things, in order to proclaim their good intentions and to scold the players for being mean.

This from the company whose motto used to be HTFU.

I found the whole CCP line in that article rather irksome because even the most charitable read of the text has to send the message that the people deciding on game changes are completely disconnected from the players and have no idea what it is like to actually play the game.

Less charitable is that they are shading the truth to make themselves look less ignorant of the realities of the game for players.

The reality is probably somewhere in between, as there is evidence for both conclusions.

The  tale from CCP seems to be that this one particular Dev Blog was being taken way too hard by some of the player base.  The problem is that this view ignores the entire context of the anger, which has been built up over the last two years as CCP proceeded to nerf nearly every player income source.  In that time I think they only passed over wormhole ratting and incursions, the former now being the largest ISK faucet in New Eden.

So when they claim that the CSM didn’t tell them that this dev blog might piss people off or that they don’t understand why things are blowing up so badly right now, they are brushing off two years of context.  People were angry already.  The storm had built up, and then CCP held out hope back in July that scarcity would be ending in Q4.

What they didn’t do was define what that meant.  Even back then I was confused as to where they might go given that the team, led by CCP Rattati, was pretty clear that they felt that economy needed to be “fixed” and brought into a state they felt was sustainable.  I didn’t have much hope that ISK and ore would flow freely again.

But then, on the Tuesday before the dev blog, they did a post announcing its imminent arrival, unveiling the take line for the New Dawn quadrant, “The Age of Prosperity.”

In the article CCP half halfheartedly admits that maybe they could have been better on messaging, but the claim remains that they had no idea the dev blog would be this inflammatory.

But even on Tuesday I knew that unless there was some serious relaxation of scarcity that people would be pissed.  To promise and end of scarcity is one thing, but to promise and age of prosperity, that was setting an impossible expectation.

I left a comment on the post about the Tuesday announcement over at TNG that said:

I am not sure why they felt they needed an announcement for an announcement, but I expect that the phrase “new age of prosperity” is going to come back to bite them by the end of the week if they are not careful.

Guess what, it did.  And when I can predict something it is generally obvious in the extreme.

So when CCP goes on about the CSM only giving them a “premonition” (whatever the hell that means) that the reaction might not be positive, I have to wonder what sort of island they live on.  Oh, yeah, right, that volcanic one in the north Atlantic to which no news travels it seems.

And the update itself, as proposed, seems to be at best a “side-grade” from the current state of affairs.  The dev blog opened big with how resources were going to be doubled… doubled from the low ebb at the end of two years of nerfs, but at least that felt like a step in the right direction… only to get into the details about of waste and nerfs and time sink mechanics that tally up to almost no net change.

Scarcity is here to stay, CCP just wants to cement it in place behind game mechanics like waste and compression.

The crazy thing is that CCP thought we would like this.  One of the new features called out by players is the new compression mechanics, where a Rorqual pilot has to feed resources into a module and wait for them to compress, then do it again, and again, and again, that being the primary function of the most expensive mining ship in the game in New Dawn.

But the article paints something of a Bizarro world view from CCP about that change:

“Compression was intended to be one of the most interesting [additions,]” Snorri [CCP Rattati] stated. “It definitely wasn’t meant to be an oppressive thing.”

And yet as soon as players tried it on the test server, that was the reaction, that CCP was trying to punish Rorqual pilots, which brings us back to the “do they even play the game” question, which comes up quite a bit when CCP makes changes. (Or maybe those who do play can’t tell the boss they have a bad idea.)

CCP asserts in the article that of course they want feedback and of course they will iterate on the design and of course it won’t go live as it stands now.

But it is hard to take that seriously.  CCP has a long history of ignoring feedback and pushing things onto the live server even when problems are presented to them.  Even the problem that CCP sees in the Rorqual, the super mining capital ship, was one of their own making that they pushed into the game in spite of feedback.  Ayrth, then one of the Imperium CSM members, told CCP exactly what the Imperium would do, that we would go all in on Rorquals and mine Delve to an extent they clearly could not imagine.

We’re now doomed to perpetual scarcity, with Rorqual pilots enraged, because CCP couldn’t tell what was good for the economy back then.  So we should believe they are on the right path now?

And then there is CCP Rattati, the Director of Product for EVE Online.  One does not get that sort of position without holding strong views, without feeling like they know the right path forward.

For those familiar with WoW, he has become the Ion Hazzikostas of EVE Online.  He is driving the direction of the game, he holds very strong opinions as to where the game needs to go and how players should be playing, and while he gives a nod towards feedback, he has never once let it get in the way of his own vision. (And he has his own credibility issues.)

And it is hard to argue with the idea that the economy is a core feature to EVE Online, maybe the essential feature of the game, without which everything falls apart.  But I very much get a sense, especially with the talk about the game going on to outlive its creators, that his eye is very much on a generation of new players and the design is focused on how they will advance through the game.  I can very clearly see a new player progression path in all these mining changes, with waste and skills and ships lining up.

That makes him a bit of an inversion of Ion Hazzikostas, who is focused on an established core of end game raiders. CCP Rattati seems fine abandoning the established core of the game in favor of new players.  And new players are important to any game with a long term vision.  But I have yet to see a happy ending for a game that gives up on a large installed base in order to attract and build a new one.

We shall see.

I have no dog in the mining fight, my mining days being many years in the rear view mirror.  I stick around for wars and null sec politics and the story arc created by the players.  But New Eden, for all of its diverse play styles, is an integrated, interdependent unit that rests of the economy.  I hope we don’t end up wrecking that.