Some men just want to watch the world burn.
-Alfred Pennyworth, The Dark Knight
Talking in Stations released a show on Friday focused on the null sec blackout featuring CCP Hilmar Veigar Petursson, along with EVE Community Manager CCP Falcon and EVE Online Brand Manager CCP Goodfella, and it is a show people will be talking about for quite a while.
Local is now delayed in null sec
It is also a bit of a frustrating show to which to listen as the TiS staff basically failed to challenge their guests on anything in even the most mild fashion. The tone is set in the first few minutes when, after Matterall asks about the effect of the blackout of local in null sec, Hilmar says that activity is up in the game, saying that the MAU and DAU numbers for July are at their highest point in the last five years.
Here is where, in the back of my head, I am yelling, “Ask if that is because of the Season of Skills event, which required people to login daily to get free skill points!” What we got instead was Carnaeros basically holding Hilmar’s coat, nicely explaining that those terms meant “Monthly Active Users” and “Daily Active Users” and then letting Hilmar carry on as though the blackout was all that went on in July.
I get that this is sort of the style of TiS. Matterall is a nice guy and likes to create a space where everybody on the show gets their turn to speak without being interrupted. (Imagine the same interview on the Open Comms Show, where Dirk and Rahne would be shouting over each other to try to respond.) This is, perhaps, how you get guests like Hilmar, by having a reputation of encouraging your guests to speak by giving them easy questions and letting them go their own way. But given what was said by Hilmar and Falcon, it made for an unsatisfying listening experience as my brain kept coming up with follow up questions to expand or clarify or nail down what was really being said.
And a lot was said on the show, which I am sure people will be digesting and examining and writing or speaking about for weeks to come. I have things I want to pick apart from the show and, as I noted on Twitter, I could make a months worth of “Quote of the Day” posts out of it. This could be a watershed moment for the game, the announcement of some drastic changes coming to EVE Online.
Or it might have been the online equivalent of a late night drunken dorm room discussion in college, a metaphorical circle jerk of “wouldn’t it be great…” sort of ideas.
So my first question out of the gate is how seriously should we take this interview?
I don’t even know who CCP Goodfella is, and that he is the brand manager makes it likely we can discount pretty much any ideas he espouses… not that I can recall anything he said. Sorry man.
CCP Falcon is the Community Manager, which puts him in the thick of things with the players. But, by his own admission, he is not part of the design and development loop. I had a post with a quote from him on Friday around a reply he put on Reddit about what he would do about capital ships. He made it clear down the way that he has his own opinions about the game, which he can freely express, but which are not necessarily the official line of CCP.
So when Falcon is on about his dystopian hellscape vision of EVE Online, he often prefaces it with “If it were up to me,” a solid indication that it is not. The problem is that this tends to blur the line between when he is speaking for the company and when he is speaking for himself, as most people will only remember what he said and not how he prefaced it. Is it his opinion or CCP’s that people who don’t like risk when they mine should go back to high sec?
And then there is Hilmar. He was involved in the development of the game, wrote code and was part of the design team and has been CEO at CCP since 2004. While Pearl Abyss now owns CCP, he is still the boss on the ground in Iceland, so when he says something it gets some weight.
But how much weight does it get… or should it even get?
He had been absent from the game for quite a stretch, making a big deal about returning and trying out Planetary Interaction and finding the UI for it abysmal. The CEO complains, a dev blog appears, and changes go in.
He has said that he had been playing in wormhole space lately and now we have the local chat blackout in null sec. This is a change that has been talked about for years, but the CEO goes and plays in WH space and suddenly it happens.
Now he says he is playing faction warfare, so I guess that is good news for somebody I hope. Maybe FW will get some love… or maybe some FW mechanic will get stuffed into null sec.
Of course, he was also the voice of CCP during the Incarna fiasco where he manifested some J. Allen Brack level arrogance in telling the players that the company knew better what they wanted when it came to the cash shop while dismissing people who wanted the hangar view of their ship back rather than the resource hungry captain’s quarter or the metaphorically disastrous locked door, continuing to denigrate it as “ship spinning” even as they said they would return the feature in some form.
After that Hilmar declared that the era of the Jesus Feature was over and CCP started updating and iterating on features they had launched then neglected.
I am also a bit skeptical of Hilmar’s relationship with how things have worked out in the past. One of his big talking points during the show was making the game easier for new players but harder for veterans. Malcanis says that anything you do for new players tends to benefit vets even more so, while we have clearly seen that making things difficult for veterans tends to just lock them into their position, with the changes essentially turning into barriers that keep newer players out.
If he is talking about a better NPE… a topic about which I have another post brewing… that is one thing. But beyond that how do you help new players? And does the planned Chaos Era help the new player retention issue that CCP went on about at EVE North?
So, does Hilmar saying something mean it is going to happen? Not that what he is saying is good or bad, but is he the final word? Does this represent consensus in the development team or just voicing his own opinions? Is the Chaos Era about to begin in New Eden? Will there be a dev blog? Hilmar said that there are a lot of destabilizing things that will show up in the coming weeks. So maybe it is already a done deal?
I don’t know. We’ll probably have to wait and see and evaluate what we get.