The Agency Event: Go back to the Farm

2017-07-20

The new event called “The Agency” was launched this week. It takes all the redeeming factors of the Shadow of the Serpent event, and then bashes you over the head with the baby rattle of poor execution. Unlike its predecessor, which had loot crate goodie boxes that you could reach at your leisure, this new event actually punishes you by not allowing the player to progress in a timely manner. Instead, it forces the player to log in to complete all six tasks every day if they want to get to the end before the event is over.

Potentially CCP was going for a “log-in incentive” such as when they tried giving people 10,000 skill points for killing their first rat of the day.  That would explain the booster effect initiated on the first character to log in on that account each day. But if that was what they were going for, then the rewards are a little lackluster. The UI has already confused multiple casual players, as it requires you to actually hover your mouse over the PLEX icon along the progress bar. Only then does a pop up show that the first reward is a single PLEX, and the third reward is five PLEX. The numbers immediately below are the number of progress points required to reach that reward.

It will take any individual account about ten days (with three to spare) to get to the Tengu skin, assuming they started from launch. That is assuming you are not completely demoralized by the fact you only get 6 PLEX, a booster, and a skin that may or may not fit your taste. Not only that, but some of the event requirements force the player to actually scan down sites in a certain ship, then go on to complete the site they scanned down with that same ship. Other tasks may require the player to use a Tech 3 cruiser, automatically locking out Alpha clones from completing their first day’s objectives.

Previous events spawned a beacon for you to fly to. While this may not have always been efficient—most events turned into a grind fest—it would generate PvP content both in highsec as well as lower security space. The random drops gave people something to fight for. Even if these events had particularly low-end rewards in bulk, they usually came with a temporary booster to skills. Not only did this random element add flavor to the event, especially when running with friends, it could be a genuine way to make ISK for some opportunists.

The “Shadow of the Serpent” event was a deviation from the norm, and “The Agency” is obviously trying to recreate that experience. However, this new event actually forces you to wait 24 hours until that task slot becomes open to progress further. I really enjoyed the Shadow of the Serpent event and saw genuine potential in its mechanics. Sure, it was broken, but it definitely made a novel effort that could have been easily improved upon.

However, they made it worse. This event does not live up to the user-friendly mechanics of any of the previous events, and it disincentivizes the players to complete the event along with the poor rewards. We don’t even know what the Agency is. Are we working for CONCORD? The Sisters of EVE? Upwell? What does it do? What is the purpose of this event short of something to do? Pointless is a big word coming to mind here.

I almost feel that CCP didn’t want anyone to notice the poor execution of this event. Or that they felt they didn’t have to try because the new Project Discovery exoplanet minigame is actually really cool with nice rewards. Whatever the reason, this event seems to be dead on arrival. They did not do anything to actually improve the mechanics of the previous events, amped up the difficulty of accomplishing these tasks, and used a shriveled up carrot tied to a stick to try and get us to like it. Most players will likely ignore this event entirely, resulting in the few masochistic souls who made it to the end selling the Tengu skin for a lot of money.

We shall see if CCP’s Livestream at 19:00 on July 20th reveals anything different, and proves me completely wrong. But until then, I am very disappointed.

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Comments

  • chimpy

    CCP Seagull has given a few speechs where her core ethos in game development is to give players the tools to make the content and free reign of actions. I’ve noticed a trend away from that very laudible goal in Eve over the last year or two, and this is another classic example. Why do you need to do the event in a certain type of ship? What does that arbitary restriction bring to the player experience? If someone wants to use an inefficient overkill ship why not let them? The natural min max tendancies of players will eventually teach them they are being inefficient. To buy and fit the restricted ship may cost some players more than the rewards, why would those even bother? Arbitary restirctions go against the very sandbox nature of Eve and Seagull’s stated goals. The arbitary restriction says to me “Bored developer inventing some sort of mechanic to try and make it seem more exciting, whilst not putting much if any thought into it. – Kill 10 rats cookie cutter.” The booster that you can’t choose when to use or sell, why? If you want to give players a little boost then put it under the players control. Removing control from the player is one of the deadly sins of game dev according to Seagull, and she’s right, and yet here we are CCP doing it more and more. When I log into Eve my first 30 mins to an hours is checking things, market, PI, industry jobs, etc… before I even leave the station. The buff is of no use to me. Why in a sandbox game try and remove decisions from the player and force them to behave in a certain way. It makes no sense. I don’t care about this event, I don’t care that it doesn’t appeal or motivate me, I do care that CCP is regularly and repeatedly losing their way in making these silly design decisions that do not follow the stated core game development philosophies of the lead game designer. CCP seems to be building a mounting track record of poor/lazy decisions recently. They may be working hard, but that’s not the impression given by their recent output. How hard can it be to sanity check this stuff?

    July 20, 2017 at 10:47 AM
  • Lekly

    This event feels like ‘Daily’ quests or something from other MMOs. I hate that on principle, the rewards are awful, and the missions themselves are just bad. CCP really missed the mark with this event.

    July 20, 2017 at 1:18 PM
  • Alaric Faelen

    CCP needs to go back to doing Live Events. They got scared off of them last time when they didn’t execute well and the high sec fleet got slaughtered. But even that was a good time and offered content- it just needed tweaked to work better. I say that of so much of CCP’s work these days….stuff isn’t usually terrible- good ideas just bad execution.
    What they need to do is stick with something long enough to iterate on it and improve the experience. Instead they seem bent on pushing out a new type of content every so often with all the accompanying bugs and issues. Then abandoning that for the next goofy thing someone comes up with at staff meetings.

    July 20, 2017 at 1:19 PM
    • I had never been interested in the lore or live events till I heard about the event where there was an actual battle. I thought that was really cool, interactive, and game influencing. It felt like the players were really part of the universe and not just passively living in it.

      July 20, 2017 at 1:23 PM
      • Alaric Faelen Lekly

        I think that last Live Event should have been the start of a new thing. The single biggest factor in getting people to fleet up is having an FC. That rare unicorn of gaming, someone that will take the lead. CCP has Rise and Fozzie, both of whom were accomplished PvP’ers. Give them Live Events to run. Either as FC of a player fleet, or as solo bad guys in dev hacked ships and let players get rare dev KMs.
        That live event failed because of poor communication. High sec thought it was a tutorial fleet and expected to be led. CCP thought the players would sort out their own leadership (and a few players DID in smaller groups) and just pointed them at null sec. Of course null sec has excellent communications and we intercepted their fleet and crushed it to powder. High Sec felt CCP set them up, but really it’s just poor implementation again. CCP should have fixed that rather than abandon the concept completely.
        A lot of people showed up for that Event. Had it gone well many more would have shown up for the next one. It may still have been a lopsided battle (as any kitchen sink mess is going to be when facing a honed and tested null sec doctrine) but even losing should have been fun. Give out some small reward to anyone that was in fleet or lost a ship. CCP missed an opportunity not already doing this for alphas.

        July 20, 2017 at 1:37 PM
    • Pew Pew Alaric Faelen

      ” Instead they seem bent on pushing out a new type of content every so often with all the accompanying bugs and issues. Then abandoning that for the next goofy thing someone comes up with at staff meetings.”

      Yeah this I think is a great statement of their biggest problem, no follow through.

      Live events could be awesome, especially if they got creative with gamemodes. Like “anyone within 50km of this beacon in Lowsec at 21:00 will get a cool loot box.”

      July 20, 2017 at 2:47 PM
      • Lekly Pew Pew

        I think cooler than that would be, “Anyone within 50km of this beacon in LS at 21:00 will get a status effect of ‘infected’. They can spread that status by podding someone, or be cured by being podded.”

        Every person you infect (if you are infected) or cure (if you are not) gets you a point. Points build towards rewards same as they always do.

        July 20, 2017 at 5:20 PM
        • Pew Pew Lekly

          Yeah that sounds awesome.

          There would be loads of depth to an infections mechanic, if they really wanted to dig into it.

          July 20, 2017 at 6:54 PM
          • Lekly Pew Pew

            I’m willing to let CCP steal that idea, I won’t even try to take credit.

            July 21, 2017 at 4:39 AM
    • Rhivre Alaric Faelen

      They are hiring someone for live events, hopefully that helps.

      July 20, 2017 at 4:41 PM
      • Froggy Storm Rhivre

        I wish they would hire me so I can then execute my rogue swarm scenarios 😉

        July 20, 2017 at 4:47 PM
    • I agree with sticking with things until they done but I’d prefer they continually work on small automated events then once off live events which would only be within reach of one of the four factions (I’ll give you a hint, its the Caldari).

      Live events are definitely the coolest events, I just feel like implementing things such stylized mini-npc fleets would have a much larger cumulative effect – and if you launch 6-7 types of dynamic mini-evens you can then start to have player effect what sort of npc faction rocks up in local to mess with people. The player base is what breathes life into Eve, it would be cool however if Eve started to breath back.

      July 21, 2017 at 1:27 PM
    • Freelancer117 Alaric Faelen

      Goofy live event:
      https://www.gameskinny.com/euksz/eve-online-live-event-bleating-of-the-lambs

      July 21, 2017 at 10:09 PM
    • Kael Decadence Alaric Faelen

      Agreed. I almost feel as though CCP has just completely lost touch with not just their player base, but with the lore in general. The future of New Eden looks really bleak with all of this click-bait-esque content. Its all just to gimicky at this point and is only going to get worse.

      July 21, 2017 at 10:50 PM
  • The booster is automatically injected? So now are no free market forces that I can engage in with these rewards. I logged in and saw I had a booster buff, but had no idea where it came from. What is this supposed to do? Is it supposed to show people that there are temporary buffs in the game? And these restrictions on ship types; who thought this would be fun? Gate restrictions on a site are fine, but telling people what to train is just going to end in misery. I would be interested to see if anyone actually completes this new event. It’s totally low effort, low tier dev garbage to me.

    July 20, 2017 at 3:30 PM
  • A.D. Sixx

    Goals that call for ships that Alphas have zero access to. The ‘big’ reward being a SKiN to a ship that (once again) Alphas can’t use & Omegas might not even bother with as their T3C of preference. A whopping six NuPlex possible. Waiting out day-long timers.

    Marketing genius to back Alphas to the wall about going Omega? Or a tonedeaf ‘shiny!’ to distract from the astounding lack of follow-thru on so many new & ‘improved’ changes lately?

    July 20, 2017 at 5:36 PM
  • Pew Pew

    “Project Discovery exoplanet minigame is actually really cool with nice rewards.”

    This makes me think you haven’t actually been playing it. The training set is total garbage and whoever approved it for release should be ashamed.

    https://www.reddit.com/r/ProjectDiscovery/comments/6n34p1/collecting_bad_samples_sticky/

    July 20, 2017 at 7:16 PM
    • Vulxanis Viceroy Pew Pew

      I personally was happy with the amount of skins and attire that it is providing. They could do with more boosters I’m sure, but it’s not “bad” imho. It may not be the most user friendly part of the game, but I feel you were having more of a personal preference difference with me than an objective quality of rewards disagreement. Plus the Exoplanet rewards are far more numerous by comparison. Just because you don’t like them, at least there’s a lot more options, and more people do like it than apparently you do.

      July 21, 2017 at 1:50 AM
      • Yeah cool if you’re enjoying it then that’s good.

        I think my frustration stems from the poor design choices of the actual minigame itself. If they actually want to get the samples classified properly they’ve really hampered that.

        I don’t know why it’s so slow and clunky. Every time you press a button it shows an animation. I would say ~75% of the time playing the game is waiting for animations to slowly crawl across the screen. I could definitely play it 4x faster.

        Moreover having the training set have so many mislabeled examples is kind of shocking. If you’re going to use it to train thousands of people then you really need to double check it and actually have some of the professors sit down and play the game first and sign off on it. This obviously hasn’t happened and I feel that is either lazy or incompetent.

        I also don’t really care about skins but I’m not really interested in it for the rewards.

        July 21, 2017 at 8:03 AM
  • Alot

    As a delegate from the lazy-pve-oriented-casual-heap, I’d say that this sort of format is extremely appealing to me. Unfortunately the 1-6 plex is a joke – especially if you in a position where Tengu skin choices are something which you in a position to ponder.

    While I admire the existence of Eve, taking part in the grand masquerade, political ecosystem and month long campaigns proved too abstract for me to actually enjoy – especially for the level of effort it required. These sorts of dailies are the sort of thing which are shoved far enough up my nose for me to actually believe they are in licking distance.

    I’d say the author of this article, through the fault of being proficient at Eve, has mistakenly coupled accessibility with a competency bar. The last set of events i did was the blood raider one in which i got a few of my ships blown up and several sites taken from me as more efficiently equipped players warped in half-way through, blew up the correct loot ship and warped off with the box. There is nothing wrong with that setup but it is less likely to appeal to the permanent dwellers of highsec (whos player base percentage ive never actually looked up) or more importantly, the masses of unsubbed players – the majority of which are unlikely to possess the pvp skills to effectively learn to contest event sites before the festival ends.

    This format of rewards means that while the player is out trying to complete objectives, while the player may be blown up repetitively, its progress inside the event can never be taken away from it. This isn’t the usual status quo of Eve but as long as plebs are being shot down left right and center, does it really detract from the experience to know that each pleb gets to walk away with an unusable skin at the end of the 10 day period (and 6 plex)?

    July 20, 2017 at 9:38 PM
    • Vulxanis Viceroy Alot

      I did not say that the other events were perfect, they just had positive aspects about them that I was pointing out. But yes I do agree with you that the events should be more tailored to highseccers as well, but I am not sure how to do that. Interestingly enough the majority of my event experience in eve was done in highsec.

      July 21, 2017 at 1:52 AM
  • Rolfski

    I agree, this event is absolutely horrible: Confusing (boosters?), buggy (Battle cruiser achievement not functioning), limited (alpha’s cant use T3’s and the event’s reward skin), underwhelming (shitty rewards) and grindy (forcing you to log in every day for basically nothing).

    July 20, 2017 at 9:50 PM
  • Kael Decadence

    Really good write up bro. I couldn’t have said it better.

    July 21, 2017 at 10:48 PM
  • Squinty McBlindy

    The Scope Network worked very well. Yes, it was grindy as fuck and the rewards were few and VERY far between, but if they introduced several smaller rewards along the path then I’d be very happy to see The Scope make a return.

    July 25, 2017 at 2:21 PM