Header art by Elthar Nox
There is uproar in the EVE community. Adverts targeting new players appear to be the straw that has broken the camels back, and a storm of angst has erupted against CCP and the game itself. As EVE Online celebrates 18 years of interstellar combat, CCP appear to be struggling with growing discontent amongst the player base, whilst also trying to manage an increasingly complex ecosystem that is manipulated at every turn by those same players – it is a sandbox after all. Many other MMOs reach these points, where there is simply nothing left to play for. What is the next step?
As empowering and sometimes amusing the dissent is on r/EVE, the real issue lies with a lack of communication between the developers and the player base. There is also feeling that players and the CSM are not being listened to. As often is the case in gaming, the players do have the answers, but CCP have to mow through fields of crap to find those hidden gems. The most experienced amongst the player base usually have the wisdom to see the second and third order effects of changes – but it is those players who are the most disillusioned over the “destruction” of their game.
The most popular MMO of all time is of course World of Warcraft, with an estimated 4.5million players worldwide and a peak of 7 million when Shadowlands released. The 2004 title is still going strong. So, how has WoW managed to maintain such high player numbers despite enduring 17 years? The answer will lie in the release of new gameplay, different challenging content and also the increasing difficulty for veteran players.
With an initial Level cap of 50, WoW has gradually increased this through the years and in 2018 the Battle of Azeroth expansion saw the cap increase to Level 120. But not only did the level increase, but the content with it, players needed that level and matching items to beat the increasingly challenging instances that were released with it. Other games have copied this model. The 10th most popular MMO: Star Wars: The Old Republic has constantly increased the games’ end goal through expansions. Although plagued by outdated graphics and lacking support by EA, the 2019 “Onslaught” release raise the bar to Level 75 and added new missions to complete.
Capped at Titans
For EVE Online there is stagnation – yes, the aforementioned games do not have a fraction of the complexity of New Eden. But after 18 years, there are players who really have achieved almost every attainable mechanic goal. Titans are aplenty, and some players have accrued such substantial wealth that it is actually game-breaking for the rest of the economy. How have people managed to achieve this? Firstly, through their own hard work, ingenuity and a Rorqual meta that vastly expanded super capital proliferation for a number of years. Secondly, because there is no where else for them to go.
We must raise the bar. Titans and Supers were released in 2005 with the Red Moon Rising expansion, and apart from Keepstars we have seen no “bigger” ships for veterans to aim towards. CCP saw the problem was related to the ability for veterans to accumulate wealth, boson ratting was destroyed, Rorqual meta eliminated and the “scarcity” programme implemented. But these changes managed to hit those with less resources harder than those with the most. In retrospect the answer wasn’t to remove their ability to build more titans, the answer was to give them a new goal.
CCP need to increase the level. There needs to be something new, the much sought after Angel Titans are exciting, but they are just another Titan. Sometimes bigger, is better. Let us put our thoughts into creating Titans+. Sci-Fi is filled with examples of that game changing ship that can turn every battle and real world arms races (see: Dreadnought) show that super powers really can throw their entire weight behind outcompeting each other for these super weapons. EVE Online already has some of the biggest ships ever imagined – but the players need something bigger.
Bigger Is Better
We need a Blackstone Fortress, a Death Star, a planet-killer even the Triglavian World Ark. Something that can take on 5-10 Titans and win. It should require an enormous amount of resource to build (not the same as a Palatine Keepstar – that’s just ridiculous) and there should be options to build it using pre-existing Titan hulls. That’s how you stop players from stockpiling Titans, make the next level require them as a resource.
But what would this ship do apart from offering a larger N+1 to the current meta. It needs a wider utility, for all factors not only PvP. This is where the players come in, if CCP let us be a part of their creations then they would surely have our wholehearted backing. There are a multitude of options for their use as well, the below list were all thought from a small part of the community.
- Allow them to bridge or “conduit” into cynojammed system.
- Give them a deployment option that allows them to boost all ships in a whole system continuously.
- In PvE they could trigger additional spawns of anomalies across a constellation or even NPC incursions against the ship itself that would need a Super fleet to fight.
- A Doomsday weapon that shoots Moons to generate moon mining.
- A Rorqual Headquarters that can teleport ores and processed materials back to a station and boost mining activities.
The options are endless, and yes, they may appear excessive but for these to be a success and a sought-after objective they must have a use. Supers, Titans and Titan+ needs to be in space, they need to be massive goals and massive targets. Titans take around 530 days to train with implants, boosters and remaps – but to impose a nearly 2-year target onto our veterans would be extreme, luckily there are an excess of skill injectors and a large amount of accumulated wealth to combat as well.
Generate Excitement and Revenue
There are so many options out there for CCP and maybe Titans+ isn’t the answer, but if you have been playing a game for 18 years then the developers deserve to give you a new objective. There are of course smaller options as well that don’t mess with the game mechanics but can add excitement to the player base. To paraphrase The Mittani on The Meta Show: “This is a spaceship game; where are the spaceships?” Redesign some of the old models, re-spec the lesser used ships or even mix them up so Muninns works better in small gangs whilst the Deimos becomes the new HAC of choice. How about Tech 3 Frigates, more Covert Ops ships or faction Destroyers?
If CCP need to generate real world funds, listen to the player base. Give us Alliance SKIN Tokens that can be redeemed for a specific alliance skin that CCP has approved. Has anyone thought about offering Station SKINs – not the ones that turn your Keepstar yellow, but ones that turn your Fortizar into a Gallente style station with windows, hydroponics, and a different design? Alliance character backgrounds, branded clothing, even some crazier wearables – just not for $70 a hat. And finally, when all else fails, ship modifications (please god, no cat ears!!).
The pending revolt is not unavoidable. CCP Swift and others are doing their very best to keep communications open and our newly elected CSM are applying pressure and strong words where required. An outline for EVE Online must be given to the player base. What is the new goal, what is scarcity trying to achieve and what are your markers for success? Will we ever see a bigger ship than the Titan and can our hard-earned money be used effectively for enjoyable and engaging gameplay rather than forcing the burden of content entirely onto the players.
The one thing CCP should take solace from is the angry reaction by the players reveals one amazing truth; we all deeply care about EVE Online and its future. The players need confidence that it is going in a direction that will endure another 18 years.