CCP has lifted restrictions on its employees openly playing the game, according to a new policy, first announced at EVE London. The game developer has long been criticized for not playing their own game, and according to players that’s one of the biggest reasons for some of CCP’s failed balancing attempts. These criticisms come especially from nullsec where anonymity is often seen as a source of intel leaks and spying.
Up until now CCP employees were only allowed to use their non-dev accounts on the condition that they remained anonymous. While this might be relatively easy for some lesser known employees, for the more public employees staying below the radar was difficult in groups in which using voice chat is mandatory. If their anonymity was ever compromised, they were to follow strict guidelines, which often lead to the compromised character being changed.
The previous guidelines were as follows: “Employees should contact a Lead Game Master or IA immediately if their in-game identity is compromised or made public. The compromised character should not log into the game until the matter has been investigated and may be moved or removed, depending on circumstances.”
The former policy was designed to avoid employees being perceived as having a “bias” towards a specific group in the game, which might damage the reputation of both the developer and the company itself in worst case, but it also had the unfortunate side effect of disconnecting employees from the biggest parts of the game where API checks, voice chat, interviews and more are mandatory for security reasons.
The new policy, effective December 16, allows employees to decide how public they want to be with their non-dev account and also allows them to have multiple accounts with varying degrees of anonymity, if that’s what they want. That anonymity, however, is enforced by the employee, meaning that they’re going to be relying on players to keep their identity a secret if they decide to reveal it to only a couple of people in their corporation or alliance.
Once a character has been made public it’s not possible for the employee to go back to having that character be anonymous again, unless there’s an exceptional reason to apply their “witness protection program,” such as severe harassment from players.
The last of these rules is named “public communication” and covers a CCP employee’s interaction with players. It says that a CCP employee is still considered a representative of CCP while on their non-dev accounts and that they must follow CCP social media guidelines and always be respectful towards players. One of the specifics mentioned is to never joke about having “dev-hacks,” as this could be taken seriously by some players.
Employees are still not allowed to disclose information about work-related issues, such as game development, balance changes, and bug fixes. Participating in these discussions can make the developer look biased in the eyes of an observer. Therefore, if players are interested in the topics and want to make suggestions or post their thoughts, they should use official channels such as the forums or the bug report form.
Player and Dev Responsibilities
CCP also makes a series of recommendations for players to make the transition easier on CCP employees who want to be more public about their identity. Among them is a reminder that not everyone who works at CCP is someone who’s played EVE for a long time (e.g. some are art designers, sound designers, etc.), and that devs may lemming or forget to broadcast for reps like any other new player might.
Another recommendation is not to pester CCP characters with personal issues or game suggestions. These questions and discussions should only be posted to characters with “CCP” in front of their name, no matter who’s behind the character. EVE is supposed to be “a game” for the employees when they’re not on their CCP characters. CCP’s final recommendation is aptly named “leave the tinfoil at home,” and states that CCP developers aren’t allowed to use developer tools for cheating in the game, on these non CCP accounts. Employees earn their ISK and purchase ships, mods, injectors, and skills just like everyone else.