Tag Archives: CCP

EVE Aether Wars is Returning via Steam

CCP and Hadean are back and eyeing another attempt at a world record as they test technology to enable huge multiplayer spaceships battles beyond the scale of what EVE Online has managed so far.

Aether Wars Tech Demo

I am still not sure about their plan to get to that world record number, surpassing an actual EVE Online in-game battle, the Keepstar battle at 9-4RP2 (the “million dollar battle“), which saw 6,142 players involved and was recognized for a Guinness world record.

The first attempt fell well short and the second run to surpass that number only got about half way to the goal.  But they are giving it another shot and they have some new ideas.

The first idea is to get people involved by doing two preliminary runs before they go for the record.  So the events will be:

  • Public Stress Test 1 Sat 9 Nov 2019 19:00 UTC
  • Public Stress Test 2 Sat 16 Nov 2019 19:00 UTC
  • World Record Attempt Sat 23 Nov 2019 20:00 UTC

That is basically the next three Saturdays.

The second idea is to put the whole thing on Steam.  So if you want to join in there is a page up on Steam for the EVE Aetherwars Tech Demo.

Being on Steam will make it easier for people to grab the client and get it launched and logged in for the events.  However, Steam could also be another barrier as well.  Just try finding it on Steam if you don’t know it is there for example. (I found that searching on “Hadean” was a reliable way to get to it.)

CCP published a blog update on the plans the goes into detail as to what they have in mind.  We shall see if they can hit their goal this time.

CCP Falcon Leaves CCP

Over on Reddit there was a “Where is CCP Falcon?” thread a week or so back.  He seemed to have gone very quiet.  CCP Dopamine had been handling a the web site updates since mid-October and at EVE Vegas he was the community team person speaking while CCP Falcon was nowhere to be seen, an unusual turn of events.

CCP Falcon and I at EVE Vegas 2018

Today on Twitter the new broke when he announced the following from his now no longer “CCP Falcon” account:

After 7 amazing years at CCPGames it’s time for me to dock my Polaris Enigma Frigate and set off in search of a new adventure in the universe. It’s been a privilege and a pleasure to serve such an incredible, dedicated and passionate community.

For the last 17 years – 7 of those as a CCPer – EveOnline has defined my life, shaping me as a person and revealing strengths I didn’t know I had. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, to everyone I’ve worked with, talked spaceships with, flown with and against.

No idea what’s next, but I’ll always be capsuleer and I’ll always be around for those who wanna chat – although my twitter handle will be changing soon.  I’ll leave you all with the incredibly talented and

Fly safe.

– Falcon, Out.

Community management positions are often volatile and turn over is common.  Any number of seemingly popular community managers have been shed from various MMOs over the years.  And CCP has gutted its own community team in the past.  When it comes time to cut head count people who do not write code can find themselves to be disposable in the eyes of the company.

There were no reasons given for CCP Falcon’s departure.

CCP Falcon will be missed by some, no doubt.  While not as popular as CCP Guard, his pugnacious style did appeal to some even if it put others off.

CCP Falcon and CCP Guard back in the day

Certainly his vision of what EVE Online ought to be like, from that TiS interview earlier this year, did not endear him to many, and having a hand in mis-managing of the CSM, including the “No Sions” rule, which put the whole thing in crisis and led to him and CCP Leeloo being shifted to other duties, no doubt left stains on his record with the company.

On the flip side, you were rarely in doubt as to where you stood with CCP Falcon.  He wasn’t one to sugar coat an answer or be mealy mouthed in a response.  You might have wished he would have softened a blow now and then, but you always had your a direct response.  And he pissed off Gevlon, showing what a thin skinned troll he really was.  You have to give him that.

And so it goes.  Seven years is an enviable duration for a community management position.  The only real question is how he put up with us for so long.

EVE Online Gets a Very Small November Update

With Team Talos working to its own every other week plan, as brought up during EVE Vegas, an expansion likely on the way for December, and other projects being more long term, the November update for EVE Online is about as small as any update for the game I have ever seen.

Velator rookie ships as the patch theme

I will copy and paste the patch notes in their entirety.

Patch Notes For November 2019 – 2019-11-05

Released On Tuesday, November 5th 2019

New Player Experience:

  • A portion of new capsuleers will start experiencing a preliminary version of a login campaign, complete with minor rewards.

More updates to come as the month rolls on.

That is it.

This update covers something that was brought up in Vegas about CCP’s plans for the tutorial and new player experience.  The goal is to throttle new player attrition, as exemplified by this chart, which was shown at EVE North in Toronto back in June.

How many new players log back in as time passes

At Vegas the presentation about new player retention showed some of the things the had already done to make the tutorial better… and there were some serious “fix the stupid” intems fixed… as well as some of their upcoming plans.  One item on the list was a special login reward campaign for new players.  This campaign is set to offer rewards to encourage new players to log in again the next day.  I do not know what the rewards are, and the tentative nature of the patch note entry leads me to believe that the company is going to tinker with those rewards as time go on, but CCP said they would be useful for new players.

So that is apparently what today’s update brings.

And it seems simple enough that it might work.  I mean, if the game and its UI piss off a new player… which I am sure it does often… it won’t help.  But if somebody is on the fence, the promise of something new might get them to log back in, which gives the game another chance to get the new player engaged.

It remains to be seen if that sort of thing can get a new player out to the 30, 60, or 90 day mark, but if might boost the numbers at the 1 to 7 day end of the scale.

Halloween Comes to EVE Online with Login Rewards and PvP Changes

I’m back from EVE Vegas and am still digesting some of what I heard, but just as I was leaving they were starting to announce some of their Halloween plans, which includes another round of login rewards.

Daily horrors indeed

The good news is that this time around it isn’t ALL just skill points, though there are still some skill points if that is your thing.

The reward matrix

There are even SKINs, though some of them look to be the same SKINs from last year, so I have them already.  As usual, there is an Alpha and Omega division, with encouragements to upgrade if you want all the rewards.

The login rewards are claimable from downtime on the 28th… today… through until downtime on November 3rd, so log in to claim now.

In addition, there is a bit of a spicy PvP incentive from the newly formed Team Talos.

Be the house with the full size modules

The details for this only came out at EVE Vegas, but from downtime on the 29th through to downtime on November 5th ALL PVP kills will drop 100% of the modules and and cargo contents.  The loot fairy will say YES the whole time.  I expect a spike in suicide ganking if nothing else.

Also coming is the Howling Interceptors update.

Combat Interceptors Arise

This was also something where the details only came out on Saturday as part of the Team Talos changed.  Combat interceptors are getting a boost to make them more viable when compared to assault frigates.

Combat Frigate Buffs

These updates are not an event but a permanent change… or at least as permanent as anything is in New Eden.

And that is what we are getting for Halloween.  Unfortunately we don’t seem to be in line to get another event like the Crimson Harvest from last year.

The Crimson Gauntlet banana

No banana of death this time around.

Addendum:  CCP announced that the Trick or Treat event and the Howling Interceptors update have been delayed a day, so will stat on the 30th.  Trick or Treat will then run through November 6th.

Vision Quest to EVE Vegas

I’ll be getting on a plane to Las Vegas very soon and will be on my way to what is to be the last official CCP sponsored EVE Vegas.

EVE Vegas 2019

I was somewhat disappointed by the news of this being the terminal EVE Vegas.  Vegas wears thin on me in about two days, but there are few places that epitomize the glorious highs and seedy dark underside of New Eden than this city of sin.  It is also a pretty easy place to get to with plenty of distractions.  No so San Diego, next year’s chosen location, which, among other things, is literally the only big city in California that is further/more expensive for me to fly to than Vegas.  I still don’t understand that as a choice.  It is a nice city, but so are a couple dozen other options in the US.

That, however, is next year’s problem.  This year it is Vegas and I will be there live to see what CCP has to say.

They had better have something to say, and it had better sound something like a plan.

It is a sign when you hear similar messages from members of the community that wouldn’t otherwise acknowledge each other save to spit in their respective directions.  But the lack of direction seems to be a unifying theme.

There has been a lot of back and forth about whether or not any outsider can definitively prove that EVE Online has been slipping this year, but the Chaos Era seems like a bust to me.  Destruction isn’t up and most other metrics we can see are down.  But more than that, it just doesn’t feel like CCP has a vision.

Yes, yes, they have something of a plan.  As the CSM minutes informed us, new player retention is at the top of the list and 80% of development assets will be focused on that for the time being.  And that is a good thing… or could be a good thing, if they can do something that addresses the issue.

It is also a very tactical choice, the desire to get more people to stick past the tutorial and through the first 30 days.  More players are better for the game and its rather essential economy.

It just doesn’t do much for the eventual destinations.  A few percentage points increase in that 30 day number will look good on somebody’s review, but it won’t shake up the stale null sec meta or make missions more fun or revitalize faction warfare or stop wormhole space from being crab central.

And it certainly doesn’t give us anything to look forward to.  We need a vision!  A destination!  Something to inspire us to hang around!  Dare I say it?  We need a road map forward!

Okay, I know road maps are risky things.  People see them and assume they are etched in stone and start calling you names when things change or don’t run to your initial (and always optimistic) schedule.  Believe me, I’ve been there.  At my last company I used to have to help with an ongoing two year road map for our customers.  Everything more than six months out was always wishful thinking. (Not to mention about half the features I would suggest would get the response “We can’t put that on there, we told Gartner we had that already!” from somebody in marketing.)

But they are also motivational, both internally and externally.  I can say from my own career over the last… oh lord have I really been doing this for almost thirty years now… that having a big goal, a splashy new feature, or a destination can get the best out of people.

It is certainly much more motivating than revising and updating the same feature set for the umpteenth time.

So my hope is that CCP will have something to inspire us, some vision… be it near or distant… that will spark hope that the future of the game will be better than the present.

We shall see.  I travel light… and I don’t own a laptop in any case… so you’ll probably read about what they announce before I get back home to write about it.  Look for my response next week.

Onward to Vegas!

Don’t Forget to Claim Your Skill Points

I may complain at how much skill points have been cheapened by CCP’s recent propensity towards handing them out relentlessly… they have become CCP’s hammer and every problem seems to be a nail these days… but I am not too proud to go collect them all the same.

So I wrapped up the most recent bonus week of skill points for just logging in last night.

Last handout collected… just for an alt, of course

CCP was nice enough to give us eight days in which to collect the seven rewards, so if you missed a day along the way you can still catch up.  You have until downtime (11:00 UTC) on the 24th.

If you missed two days though… well… I guess you didn’t want it bad enough.  I don’t know.  But don’t worry.  There will no doubt be more skill points handed out at some later date.  And the return of the skilling spree, where just killing somewhere between one and ten NPCs will get you some skill points, carries on.  So you can still do that.

Standings as the Gate to Mission Content

Missions are still the core of EVE Online‘s PvE offering.

A bunch of other PvE options have been added over the years, The Agency will even give you a hint about their existence.

The Agency giving you some options

But missions have remained a cornerstone of the game since I started.  Back in 2006 the tutorial of the time wrapped up and sent you off to your first mission agent, and when I ran the tutorial back over the summer, I was sent in the same direction.  CCP has since revised the tutorial again, simplifying it a bit further, but nothing about the direction in which it sends you has changed.

Just a few short steps now

If anything, the tutorial is far grown even more focused on teaching you how to run missions.  The combination of that and some key UI changes have tried to take the edge off of running missions.  You no longer have to fumble for the journal to bring up the mission to check details.  Little blue buttons now show up on your screen that let you undock, set destination, warp to sites, and make sure you know when the objective is complete.  Then the buttons let you set destination back to the agent, dock up, and even open the conversation with the agent so you can complete the mission.

Seriously

I get it.  Missions are easy and fit the whole quest model that so many MMORPGs follow.  It is probably one of the more comprehensible aspects of New Eden to an outsider.  In a game where long term commitment requires finding your own goals and motivation, missions are a way to give players a short term objective.

But in some ways missions are still stuck back in 2006.  I am not just talking about the fact that the same missions I ran back then are still in circulation today.  One of the somewhat archaic aspects of missions is the whole standings aspect.

In 2006 that also made a lot of sense in the more limited scope of options we had back then.  Standings were used as a way to gate content, but also as a way to hold players back from jumping into the deep end of the mission pool too soon.  So you would run your level one missions with a given faction, building up reputation with your agent and their corporation.  You’d get a story line mission every 16 runs that would give you a bigger boost.

Then you would break into level 2 missions.  You needed to find a new agent and upgrade your ship for that.  Things were a bit tougher, you learned some more, you got your story line missions, you collected your rewards, and your standings slowly went up.

And standings going up had some benefits.  Higher standings would lower your costs for things like broker’s fees and ore processing and if you hung out long enough you could work your standings up high enough to install a jump clone in one of the NPC stations.

But that is all pretty much in the past.  You can buy and refine at player owned Upwell structures for lower costs and CCP simply remove the standings requirement for placing a jump clone years back.

So standings are mostly just a barrier to content and something of a slog to get past.

And slog it can be.  Back during the summer of skill points with the daily NPC kill reward I decided to take one alt and run a mission with him every day.  I had already dumped some skill points on him, so trained up to Connections III, which got him into level 2 missions pretty quickly.  But getting past level 2… well, it hasn’t happened yet.

Not even to level 3 missions yet

And while one a day doesn’t seem like a very diligent pace, missions quickly become tiresome so binging might lead to burnout. (There was, admittedly, a bit of back sliding when I let the account, which was one I used for cyno alts, lapse into Alpha state, pushing me back a step on Connections.)

Of course, I might not be the best test case.  I actually remember many of the missions from a decade or more back when I was running them for the first time for real.  And my fitting knowledge, while nothing to brag about, at least extends to getting a level 2 mission ship together that doesn’t have much to worry about.  So I was able to field a Dragoon with some drones that has been able to handle anything thrown at it so far, including that mission where you’re supposed to warp off in the face of long odds.

Dragoon in a mission space

The thing is, you cannot buy your way past missions.

I guess, as a long time player who ground up standings and skill points the old fashioned way, I should applaud that.  But if I were starting out and found that I could invest in a bit of PLEX for skill injectors, skill into a Myrmidon, join a null sec alliance, and turn my 200K ISK ticks into 12 million ISK ticks, I might very well be so inclined.

Not only is the pay better, but I would argue that running anomalies, dull though that might be, is no more dull than running missions.  Yes, you miss out on the thin veneer of story that a mission provide.  But nobody is actively hunting you if you’re stuck running level 2 missions either.  Having to keep an eye on local and the intel channel and occasionally having to run or fight when somebody lands on you… or holding out just long enough to get somebody in the standing fleet to show up and rescue you… that is a lot more exciting than any mission I’ve ever run.  But, like all PvP, it requires somebody else to show up, which means you can’t schedule it on demand or make it happen if you only have time to run a single anom or such.

So, as I kicked off my daily mission routine with the return of daily skill point rewards, I have been wondering if standings are necessarily a good gate for advancing mission levels.

Part of me thinks I had to do it back in the day, so why let the new players off the hook?  A more condescending part of my mind feels that this slow pace will keep new players from getting in over their head too quickly, while the true cynic in me feels that at least the slow standings grind keeps those solo mission runners subscribed to the game a bit longer before they max out their Raven skills and quit.  Maybe make the grind longer for that last case?

But the other part of me… the bigger part of me… sees the mission path for the dead end it is.  Why make it worse with grind?  And doubly so since some of the key rewards one got for grinding up standings have been removed or made somewhat obsolete.

I suppose the best thing to do would be to create a tutorial that didn’t simply train you to do missions and then point you towards them without much else in between.  But how to get there is an even bigger mess.  The open secret in the industry is that players mostly hate tutorials, and doubly so if they appear to be standing in the way of actually playing the game, so any tutorial has to be short and sweet and send players on their way in the minimum amount of time possible.  (This, by the way, is why the epic tutorial went away.  It was too long.)

How do you explain EVE Online if you have 30 minutes tops to do it?  You can’t even honestly sum up the game in 30 minutes without omitting critical details.  So CCP goes with the one thing they know they can get away with in that time and then hopes for the best.

And if that is where things are going to go, then I question whether or not standings have outlived their usefulness as a content gate.