Tag Archives: Talking in Stations

Chaos Fatigue

Do you press one of these buttons when you log off from EVE Online?  CCP added them a while back as something of an exit survey.

Thumbs up or down?

For about a week after they showed up I diligently and thoughtfully clicked one of those buttons every time I exited the game.  And then I stopped.

I stopped because, on reflection, this seemed like data collection without value.  It lacks any context and, given human nature, can be waved away by circumstances of the moment.  There is always something going on that will allow CCP to say, “Well, that i just because we announced X and a few people are mad about it.”

I would not be surprised to find out that the buttons are not hooked up to a backend that stores the results, that CCP put them in there as just a way to deflect anger into the void.

It is a very Reddit-based response, let people down vote the game when they are upset because it lets you feel like you have done something, even though down voting never changed anything because it can always be explained away.  And that makes it very appropriate for the Chaos Era that CEO Hilmar Veigar Petursson has declared for EVE Online.

Things have been somewhat chaotic since the Invasion expansion arrived back at the end of May.  That brought Triglavian incursion-like events to high sec, leading to NPCs camping the routes between tutorial and career agent systems and the joy of logging in an alt only to find you had best just log off because you’re system is now an NPC kill zone.

Didn’t want that 10K skill points anyway

And, of course, that has expanded, so hanging out it a belt in a 0.9 system might end up with you getting blow up right  away as well.

Didn’t want that Venture anyway

CCP also spread the chaos to null sec, which has tended to monopolize the headlines (Because who cares about new players?) with Drifter attacks and the Blackout and the sudden VNI nerf and the tax increases and now the coming cyno changes, with the promise of more changes to come.  I have mostly watched this from the sidelines, this blog being little else than that.  If you’re reading this you are in a tiny, obscure part of the EVE Online player base.

Just the other day CSM14 representative Dunk Dinkle was encouraging people with strong opinions on these changes to speak up publicly.

To me, strong opinions are part of the problem with any EVE Online discussion.  PvP players can be exceptionally vocal… roll footage of the forums of every PvE focused MMORPG ever… and the chaos era changes have brought them out en masse to cheer CCP for making changes that disrupt the status quo.  Anybody speaking against the chaos is shouted down because their motives are based on self-interest.  As such, every CCP proposal seems likely to go forward unchecked, since it isn’t difficult to find a wave of vocal support for them.

So the chaos will continue until morale improves.

However, I wonder if chaos is really a viable long term strategy.  Hilmar mentioned the novel The Three-Body Problem as one of his inspirations during that interview on Talking in Stations.  It was already on my list of things to read at some point, so I picked it up last week.  I have gotten far enough along to see where Hilmar swiped the idea for the Chaos Era.

In the book there is a video game which experiences alternating orderly and chaotic eras.  During the orderly times the player society of the game progresses.  During the chaotic eras nothing is predictable and everything is in disorder.  CCP seems to have decided that is the path forward for EVE Online.  They want to keep changing things constantly so that nothing is predictable in anything but the immediate time frame.

What I found interesting in the book was the player reactions to the chaotic eras.  While a select few persist through those eras, trying to discover a pattern to the chaos, the vast majority dehydrate themselves and are stored away, only to be revived when the next orderly era appears.  Then everybody gets back to work on progress in the game.

I could not help but associate the dehydrated state in the book with something akin to becoming an Alpha clone in EVE Online.  People often find chaos to be wearing over time, not what they want to devote themselves to as their hobby.  I know I am feeling a bit weary from the chaos era of New Eden, and barely any of it has an impact on me.  Only the coming cyno revision will change some aspect of my play.

And there is a very vocal choir that supports the chaos, which means that CCP would have to work to see a reason not to keep on with it.  So I suspect that the chaos will continue.

But it makes me wonder if chaos a viable long term strategy?

Addendum: After writing this, I listened to the Talking in Stations interview with CCP Rise, and it sure sounds like chaos is the long term strategy CCP has chosen.  My question as to whether or not we take Hilmar and CCP Falcon and their vision of where they want EVE Online to go appears to have been answered.

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:

 

INN Shows Explore the 9-4RP2 Fight

Naturally, even after the big battle was over, there was still much to talk about.  If you want to immerse yourself in the gritty details of what was going on INN ran three shows over the weekend that could help fill you in what went on.  The links below are all to the replays on Twitch, though the recordings will eventually also be available on the INN YouTube channel and, in some cases, Sound Cloud.

The Open Comms Show – January 26, 2018

The Open Comms show can be a bit of acquired taste, at least when the Tito’s vodka is flowing, and it comes on at an awkward time for me, but I try to catch it whenever I can, and I feel lucky to have seen Friday’s show.

The Open Comms Show Advisory, Not Mentioned: Alcohol Consumption

The usual cast of the show, Dirk MacGirk, Dreydan, Rahne, Drunk Canadian, and Blastem2hell, were joined by Arrendis (Goonswarm), Elise Randolph (Pandemic Legion), Jin’taan (Provi Bloc and CSM member), and Progodlegend (TEST) to discuss the fight at 9-4RP2 and the hype beforehand.

Of course, the hype was due to the Reddit post by Progodlegend which went viral and ended up with him on Canadian television talking about internet spaceships.

To Canada, this is now the face of EVE Online

But the real meat of the show is the discussion of the battle itself, helped along by Elise Randolph who remains one of the best and most thoughtful speakers on the game.  One of his insights was that the Imperium essentially won by losing the battle at 9-4RP2 because who is going to attempt an assault on a defended Keepstar now, and Delve has more than 15 deployed already.

The whole show, which can be a sprawling venture over its two hours some weeks, stayed nicely on topic and was worth the time to listen through.

The Meta Show – January 27, 2018

If you are more interested in fight details than the null sec meta, this might be the show to skip I suppose.  With DBRB still in Australia The Mittani was hosting solo with guests Asher Elias (Goonswarm), Vily (TEST), and CCP_Falcon.

There are good details about the fight.  Having Asher along, who organized the effort for the Keepstar campaign, means another view on how things went down.  And getting to hear CCP Falcon speak about the day, including waking up to find that the “million dollar battle” Reddit post had gone viral, was interesting.

However a good chunk of the middle of the show devolved into exploring the relationship between the Imperium and TEST surrounding the fight, with some time aside to rail against CCP for both benefiting from such fights yet setting up a sovereignty system that avoids them, all of which was largely The Mittani speaking, with a few comments from Vily and nary a peep from Asher or Falcon, arguably the two most interesting guests, for long stretches.

It was also made clear that the Imperium would not be coming back for another fight at the Keepstar.  After the one fight all of the Imperium forces returned home.

Still, it is just an hour and if you’re dying to know if TEST and the Imperium can stay united against the coalition of the north, the answer is in there.

Talking in Stations – January 28, 2018

The ever thoughtful Matterall brought the trifecta of shows about the battle home with the Sunday morning Talking in Stations episode.  Joined by Dirk MacGirk (TNT), Avery Lewis (Pandemic Legion), Keskora Yaari (Ember Sands, WH space), KillahBee (NCDot), MacCloud, PlexedLive (Goonswarm), Qicia (Goonswarm), and Qicia (Goonswarm) along with special guest CCP Fozzie to discuss both the battle as well as the changes coming for Citadels in February, to which there was an update before the show.

Again, more good tales of the fight, with CCP Fozzie saying that over 6,200 people were in system and that, by CCP’s reckoning, more than 10,000 accounts were clearly logged in and either in the system or the various staging systems and ready to jump into the fight if called upon.

There was also discussion of the changes to the Upwell 2.0 plan for February, which hit the forums just before the show.  Among them is the removal of the Gravitational Transportation Field Oscillator (GTFO) defensive module and increasing the final, last ditch repair time from 15 to 30 minutes, something that might have made a difference in the big fight.  There is also a discussion of the citadel tethering mechanic and its abuse as well as what it enables. (On the latter, in the old days you couldn’t get 200 titans in a POS shield without a lot of them being bumped out into space, but you can stack 200 safely on a citadel without any issue at all.)

Anyway, if you feel the need to wallow in more after action reports about the big fight at 9-4RP2, there is almost five hours of audio to entertain you.

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.