So I think trust is a hard thing to ask for, but it’s definitely something – the game will be in a healthy state once we’re over, once we’re done with this.CCP Rattati
I do not trust CCP, and neither should you. While CCP is not a uniform entity, and I firmly believe that individual developers have their interpretation of the game’s best interest at heart, it is important to remember that we are talking about a company that went back on its promises as often as it delivered. CCP’s history is littered with incidents of very questionable decision-making and broken promises. Of these collective incidents, this is but an overview of some of the most egregious.
Let’s address the elephant in the room first: T20.
When CCP T20 abused his position as a developer in 2006 and cheated six Tech 2 blueprints into the game to give to his player character and friends, it took a whistleblower to prompt an investigation. The investigation could neither confirm nor deny these allegations; it took CCP T20 himself coming forward in a dev blog to clear up the allegations with an admission of wrong-doing.
When the whistleblower, Kugutsumen, made the allegations, he was originally permanently banned for hacking. A CCP investigation was unable to hold up this ban reason. However, on appeal, he remained banned for engaging “in any activity that increases the difficulty and/or expense of CCP in maintaining the EVE Online client, server, web site or other services for the benefit and enjoyment of all its users” and “communicating, posting or publicizing any subscriber’s personal information within the EVE Online game world or website”.
CCP T20 would return the cheated blueprints and remain at large for his tenure at the company. Kugutsumen would remain banned. CCP would form an internal affairs team, and follow this up by barring developers from playing openly within player-corporations, a decision which they recently reversed. They would also go on to form the CSM, an elected player advocacy and feedback group.
The CSM has also seen its own storied history, with occasional purges and permabans handed down to CSM members. They would normally not be reversed, though the most recent case of liberal banning on unfounded assumptions did see ban reversals, in part due to the high-profile nature of the event.
On April 8, 2019, CCP announced the bans of sitting CSM member Brisc Rubal, as well as INIT. Fleet Commanders Pandoralica and Dark Shines, over a breach of the CSM Non-Disclosure Agreement. The ban was the first major announcement of CCP Dopamine, who became responsible for CSM management following the departure of CCP Guard. Days after the implementation of the ban, CCP entered into talks with the affected parties. This led to a review of the evidence that CCP used to make their decision, and eventually led to a full reversal of the ban, and a formal apology.
While most cases of bans are not as high-profile nor as debatable as the questionable ban of Kugutsumen, and the completely unfounded bans of Brisc, Pando, and Dark Shines, the EVE forums and Reddit are littered by anecdotes that just serve to show: permanent bans can happen to anyone, at any time, independent of actual wrong-doing.
One might reasonably think that developers often do not have direct input into disciplinary decisions. In that spirit, we should also address game design and community promises. Again, let’s start with the most egregious: Skill Injectors.
When Skill Extractors were introduced, CCP claimed that
Player driven economies are key to EVE design and we want you to decide the value of traded skillpoints while we make sure there is one single mechanism that brings new skillpoints in to the system – training.Team Size Matters
Yet, on July 9, 2020, CCP went back on their design promise and released the training boost bundle that creates 1.5m SP out of thin air, and – additionally – provides a +8 Cerebral Accelerator to characters. For more information, see this article by the Ancient Gaming Noob.
You could also take Asset Safety, another recent example where present-day game design decisions have obviated promises that players built significant parts of their in-game existence on. This occurred on May 26, 2020, when CCP pushed the Forsaken Fortress update, adding a new “Abandoned” state to citadels where all items in unfueled citadels drop as loot upon destruction. This change was detailed in a dev blog released on April 24, preceding the live update by just a single month. Some lapsed players were lucky enough to receive a promotional email a couple of days ahead of the patch, urging them to log back in and save their assets, but many saw no notification of the change. Relying on CCP’s promise cost some players multiple trillions of their in-game assets.
Well, what we have been focusing on is trying to find small roaming gameplay, PvP, that’s what we want to support, and we have a couple of things in the pipe for specifically addressing that.CCP Rattati
Players interested in tournaments and small-scale PVP would probably also have their own gripes with CCP, since the EVE Online Alliance Tournament was last held in 2018. In 2019, CCP has announced that there would be no Alliance Tournament, but promised that it would return. On various occasions, CCP have offered to support community-organised tournaments. Unfortunately, a key point for both the later ATs and community tournaments are the availability of the Thunderdome server, and the tournament tools.
Most events take place on Thunderdome, where arenas can be configured, and stability is not as impacted as on SiSi. The tournament tools are necessary to both enforce rule compliance, and to effectively cast the tournament via the FancyUI system (FancyUI shows the health, damage, and control bars of the ships, among other things).
Despite promises and assurances, community tournaments such as the Anger Games or Stream Fleet Invitational had to be postponed or cancelled, or could not be streamed, due to lacking availability of either Thunderdome or the tournament tools. At this point, while all the signs are promising, and CCP Aurora specifically has been putting in huge efforts to make it happen, it is still not certain that Thunderdome is stable enough to see the community-organised Alliance Open can take place.
You would not be wrong in attempting to defend CCP, pointing to possible misunderstandings, and finding rationales to argue that they did not really act counter to their promise, and that it would not really impact the actual game experience. I remember when, in 2018, during the EVE Online keynote at Fanfest, CCP promised to excited ovations that there soon be more information on kill reports – specifically, that logistics ships and HP amount repaired would appear on them. They never did deliver on this promise.
Similarly, in 2018, CCP changed the way Electronic Counter-Measures (ECM) work, allowing victims to lock up and engage the hostile jamming ship. This came without a change to the tank of the ships, affecting their balance significantly. At the time, CCP admitted that:
The downside here is that in the short term, balance for ships focused on ECM may be a bit out of whack. We are looking at some small buffs to fitting and tank for ECM ships with this release to help them survive against return fire, and long term we hope to be able to increase jam strength to make ECM more consistent across the board. Your feedback will be critical in ironing out those changes going forward.Eve Dev Team
Since then, no further changes to ECM or ECM-bonused hulls have been pushed forward.
The above examples are clearly showing how CCP have reneged on their promises. It does not even attempt to grasp failures of ability, or cancelled pipedreams, such as Walking in Stations, or Dust 514 (which Rattati, EVE Ecosystem lead, was intimately involved in), or EVE: Valkyrie.
Look at what CCP does, not what it says
Yes, trust is a hard thing to ask for, and trust must be earned. So far, neither CCP at large, nor the Ecosystem team, have taken any significant step that would lead me to trust them in whatever changes they assume are necessary. This is further compounded by the active decision not to involve the CSM with this project – players I trust to have a deeper understanding of the game than the developers that appeared on CCP TV on September 25. While, on a personal level, I can applaud the bravery to appear on Twitch with such an obvious lack of comprehension about how to handle the scathing pushback they got from the player base, I fail to see how it serves to engender any sort of trust.
As such, the reactions of the players that tuned in to the stream were understandable, even if treated with facetious humour from “Stream Director” CCP Fleebix, who after tweeting “Well that was fun” commented that he’s got “Enough salt to keep my fries tasty until next Fanfest”. Of course, Fanfest has only been promised to return, so who can say if it will ever happen?