Tag Archives: Matterall

Hilmar and the Chaos Era of EVE Online

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.

Related material:

 

Quote of the Day – CSM Candidate Red Flag Issue

I don’t care if CCP sells bullets that do a little more damage frankly.

-Matterall, CSM14 interview with Jin’taan (at ~17:40)

The CSM14 elections kick off on Monday, so the time for candidate research is coming to an end.  You’ll soon be able to to cast your vote… at least if you are part of the minority of players that bother.

Elections start on Monday

Of note, Jin’taan did a series of interviews with some of the candidates.  He served on the previous three CSMs and used his insight there to ask some pointed questions of the people he interviewed, keeping to the same questions for each interview and not releasing any of the interviews until he was done.  This added an element of surprise and some discomfort to those being interviewed and give some unfiltered insight into the candidates themselves.  We got to see past the bland electioneering statements and get into the candidates.

Overall, Jin’taan interviewed just six candidates that he found interesting.  They were:

I like the format and I wish Jin’taan had been able to interview more candidates, however we get what we get.

Each of the candidates stumbled now and again but mostly adapt to the situation in which they found themselves… except for Matterall.

Matterall seemed to push back on the questions.  That is okay, I suppose.  However, some of the questions from Jin’taan started with straight up statements that CSM members would be asked for direct feedback or to bring up specific issues and Matterall, unlike every other interviewee, didn’t want to go there.  (He didn’t even want to endorse any other candidate in the final question.  Mike Azariah, for example, took that moment to endorse Matterall, but Matterall had no kind words for anybody else.)

In the end I came away with the impression that what Matterall doesn’t want to be on the CSM, that what he really wants is to consult with CCP on marketing and avoid in-game issues altogether except in the most general, high level sense.

And I guess that is a platform of sorts, even if he seems to be stating up front he won’t be doing the job that will be expected of him.

But then there was the monetization question.  All of the candidates interviewed by Jin’taan went pretty quickly against CCP selling any sort of pay to win.  That seemed like the obvious response, as a couple even said.  As has been pointed out many times, any scent of pay to win in a PvP game can bring ruin to a game.  Games that have run with that at times, such as World of Tanks and their gold ammo, have found themselves better off discarding that sort of thing.

Well, all of the candidates except Matterall.

Matterall, as the quote at the top of this post indicates, was quite indifferent to the idea of pay to win.  I will expand his quote just to put in more context: [stumbles and things like “uh” not transcribed]

I know that monetization is a big deal to people. It’s not a big deal to me. If the game can make money by selling objects like Fortnite can and make however much gazillions of dollars they are making, I am all for it. I don’t see any problem with it. I think what they [CCP] have done generally in the past has been good, as far as a guideline, but this is not something I am passionate about. I don’t care if CCP sells bullets that do a little more damage frankly. I don’t see that as completely destabilizing the game. Because the game is not all about PvP. The game is about other things too.

He goes on to speak about things he would like to see… more books and such, and says he has every copy of EON Magazine… then starts to sound somewhat dismissive of cosmetic offerings.  I came away feeling like he didn’t care for ship SKINs or clothing items.

This segment of the interview had me muttering aloud as I listened to it because there was so much wrong there.

First, I dislike the comparison to Fortnite.  That seemed to be a lazy grab at the most popular title out there that is a genre apart from EVE Online.  But more so, if that is your example, a PvP game that sells only cosmetic gear, it seems like a very strange jump to go from that to selling gold ammo.  If you think that is what Fortnite does, go educate yourself.  And that comparison gets even weirder when he sounds so uninterested in cosmetic options.

Second, one of Matterall’s repeated campaign slogans is that he listens to everyone.  That seems to be something of an idle boast if he can blithely state that gold ammo isn’t a big deal.  Or maybe he does listen, but just doesn’t care.  Either way, if this is a hot button issue to you (it is to me, if only for the survival of the overall game) then Matterall would clearly not be representing you on the CSM.

Third, another of his campaign statements is about the unity of the game (you can find this over on his CSM Wire page for CSM 14), that he doesn’t like to break things up into null sec, high sec, faction warfare, and whatever.  As he writes, “those distinctions don’t make sense to me.”  But here we have him chopping off part of the game, PvP, which I would argue makes up a critical core of the game… you don’t have an industry game or a mining game or a hauling game unless people are buying replacement ships and modules due to losses… in a way that seems diametrically opposed to his stated position.  If you want to take a holistic view you cannot then set aside major parts of the game.

Fourth, his attraction to literature as a monetization option seems misplaced.  Not that I do not share his interest.  I have many back issues of EON Magazine and most of the books and what not.  The thing is, these are not, nor ever have been, a money making ventures for the game.  Things like that, and the EVE Online Store (about which I have written), are marketing.   They don’t make money, they promote the game.  Rare is the gaming company that turns a profit, or breaks even, on that sort of thing, and I feel like somebody who wants to go engage CCP about their marketing efforts ought to know that.

Finally, I think that Matterall, who has been playing since 2008 and who has done a couple of presentations at EVE Vegas about the game’s history, ought to be aware of what happened the last time CCP brought up the idea of gold ammo and cash shop ships.  While the event is erroneously called “Monoclegate” because the press likes a snappy term (with “gate” appended) for a headline, the backlash against CCP with the Incarna release was driven in large part by the leak of the Greed is Good internal publication that seemed to chart out a plan to monetize all the things, selling special ship and ammo and implants and whatever in the cash shop.

That did not turn out well for CCP and to be indifferent to that is a serious disqualifying factor to my mind.

Gold ammo – Artist concept

So there we go.  I’ve spent time talking with Matterall at EVE Vegas and we get along.  I don’t particularly want to bash him.  I was even inclined to slip him onto my ballot… not in first position, as he was asking, but somewhere… however now I cannot bring myself to put him on the list.  This interview changed my mind.  It was almost 30 minutes of empty rhetoric and high concept where the one concrete issue that came up he said it didn’t interest him.  That was only a couple minutes out of the interview, but it was the only part where the rubber met the road really, the only part where we had a glimpse of him being handed an actual topic of substance, and he didn’t have the moxie to go there because he didn’t really care.

Matterall, if you really do listen to everybody, listen to this:  I think you went far astray on this one.  You differentiated yourself, but not in a good way.

I hope, if you do managed to get elected after this faux pas, you are willing to do the job you’ve asked for and not just the bit you say that interests you.  My cynicism regarding CCP and its use of the CSM, reinforced by the recent Jester post-NDA AMA, leads me to believe that somebody trying to blaze their own path is likely doomed, if not to failure, then at least to irrelevance.

This naturally leads to something of a larger question about what qualifies somebody to be on the CSM?  Is having strong but more general opinions about internet spaceships, or the marketing thereof, enough?  Should being able to discuss and evaluate the often intricate mechanics of the game in a detailed and authoritative way the sole requirement?  Jin’taan and Jester both strongly imply that is really what CCP wants and, that if you fail at that, if you cannot engage at that level, you may as well stay home.  CCP has proven in the past that they control the discourse, that if they don’t want to listen that no member has any real agency within the confines of the CSM unless CCP grants it to them.  The only time that the CSM has successfully defied that was during the Incarna and Greed is Good imbroglio.

So do you vote for somebody you know will play by CCP’s rules and take the wins they can get, or do vote for somebody attempting to bring their own view of the role of the CSM and accept that it may well be a wasted vote?

Addendum: I was just early, Jin’taan has more interviews and two more just appeared.

On the monetization question, Olmeca Gold follows the safe line, being against in game items, as well as being worried about the skill points that CCP has been giving away.

Juris Doctor took the question and essentially argued in favor of what CCP already has (PLEX and skill injectors), which I guess is a position.  When pressed with a follow up to get him to actually answer the question, he went down a theoretical path about being able to buy alternate star gate routes in New Eden (Amarr to Jita or Dodixie to Pure Blind were given as examples) which sounds like a something ripe for exploitation, such that doubt CCP would ever embrace it.  So I’m not hot on Juris Doctor being on the CSM either. but at least he didn’t wave off gold ammo as something that didn’t matter.

Quote of the Day – Playing the Meta Game

The MER [Monthly Economic Report] is the best recruiting in the history of EVE

-Aryth, Talking in Stations May 13, 2016

Catching up on some podcasts over the weekend, one of which was Talking in Stations episode where host Matterall spoke to CCP Larrikin and GSF Director and CSM 11 & 12 member Aryth.

Aryth has the up front part of the show where he talks about an Imperium attempt to play the meta to their advantage.

You may recall some months back Aryth and Innominate, the Imperium CSM members, asked that CCP not display, or obfuscate, or delay the section of CCP Quant’s monthly economic report that shows the amount of mining done in each region.  I am pretty sure I even mentioned this in passing at the time, though I cannot find the post at the moment.  Either way, this was mentioned in the March 2017 Monthly Economic Report and the chart did not appear that month.

However, in the long term chart was not changed and resumed its position in the Monthly Economic Report lineup for April.

April 2017 – Mining value by region

There it highlight once again that in Delve we were ratting and mining like crazy.

On the show Aryth revealed/claimed that the request to suppress the information was done in order to bring attention to the report… after all, if Goons want to hide it, it must contain something good… to spread the word that if you want to mine (or rat) in null sec, then the Imperium is a destination you should consider.

Whether or not you believe this is really a “now it can be told” example of Goons playing the meta game, membership has been up.

Of course, we will see how well mining survives the next round of null sec directed nerfs.

If you are interested in hearing Aryth opine on the meta or CCP Larrikin talk about the Blood Raiders Shipyard before the event wentlive, you can find Talking in Stations linked above or over on SoundCloud.