CCP’s Vision: The EVE Ecosystem Outlook

2020-04-01

Art by Quendan Comari

On Monday, March 30, CCP posted “The EVE Online Ecosystem Outlook” dev-blog in which they introduce their long term goals for EVE Online, as well as the major updates planned to achieve them.

The Ecosystem Segment

The dev-blog starts with some assumptions about Eve’s current state, assumptions which drive CCP’s intended course. They are:

  • Abundance breeds Complacency and Scarcity breeds War
  • Predictable Inputs lead to Stagnant Outputs
  • Autarky is Anathema to Free Trade

The dev-blog is broken down into four different sections that address the components required to achieve CCP’s ambition: a healthier, more vibrant and diverse EVE universe. It sets up what the goals are for the recently implemented and the upcoming changes by establishing a mission statement, vision, and goals. These plans and ideas came from the “reorganization of EVE Development in Q4 2019,” and the goals put forth are very ambitious.

The mission statement simply reads “to continuously regulate the unique ecosystem of EVE Online in order to provide a fair and vibrant playground full of diverse and rewarding opportunities for all players.” In short, make the game balanced and fun for everyone at every stage of play. This includes increasing vet engagement through nurtured conflict, improving economic health with resource and risk distribution updates, and impacting cheating severely via prevention, detection, and enforcement methods.

CCP also announced the roll out of the Quarterly Player Survey. In this survey, players will be asked to “agree or disagree with topic statements.” This is designed to help CCP prioritize said topics and then develop a strategy to address them. Several examples were listed under two separate categories: “Cheating/abusing Mechanics topics (by frequency)” and “Equality of Opportunity (by negative ranking)”.

  • Under the cheating category: botting, 0.01 ISKing, account safety, and Real Money Trading (RMT).
  • Under equal opportunity: risk/effort and reward balance, wealth/power distribution between individuals and groups, “healthy turnover of wealth, power and sovereign space (territory) in the game (supercapital umbrella)”, and new player opportunities for success.

Ecosystem Health and Prognosis

CCP breaks down three categories and has assigned their progress with a letter grade, which is described as the “health state”, as well as a “projected trend”. The three categories are as follows:

  • Balance and Progression
  • Economy and Industry
  • Cheating and Abuse.

According to the image below, the Cheating and Abuse category has seen the most improvement, jumping from a “D” status to a “B” status, followed by Balance and Progression remaining at a solid “C” and lastly Economy and Industry with a firm “D”. This is to be followed up with a road map set to be implemented in the coming months. The road map outlines key areas based on the Balance and Progression and Economy and Industry categories from the prognosis chart below. This is in line with CCP’s commitment to reducing “cheating” as defined by the EULA as a separate issue. CCP has also further cemented their commitment to battling cheating by dedicating the entire fourth section solely to this topic.

Resource Distribution

Changing the distribution of minerals in Eve has been CCP’s stated goal since last year. The dev-blog explains that the driving reason for these changes is that “loss is not meaningful anymore for veteran players.” Null-sec was mentioned as a place of great safety where players could amass wealth with little risk. CCP believes this state of high income with no risk isn’t sustainable and illustrated this idea with the graph below.

In order to combat this, CCP has decided to institute three separate changes:

  • Shortage
  • Redistribution
  • Dynamic Distribution

Currently players are entering the Shortage Phase in which the goal is “to get the economy to the left side of the ‘Healthy State'” (see graph above). While there are many other factors that will likely aid in achieving the goal of the Shortage Phase, such as re-balancing ship classes, inserting new classes, and  re-balancing industry, the first adjustment will be mining changes. After the first goal has been met, the next phase will be initiated, however CCP is aware that the “healthy” state “is not static”, so exactly when the Shortage Phase will end remains to be seen (see picture below).

Anti-Cheating

CCP reiterated once more where they stand on the “Trifecta of Cheating”:

  • Account hacking
  • Botting
  • Fraud.

However this dev-blog focused exclusively on botting because, “According to the quarterly player survey, botting remains the key issue for a large majority of players.” This makes sense because, CCP notes, as “it is the most visible.”

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Comments

  • Guilford Australis

    I’m not sure I completely agree with CCP’s assessment of player income. I believe CCP has two problems when it comes to balancing income in EVE:

    (1) EVE is universally regarded as a miserable grind. Even those of us who stuck with the early frustrations and eventually found a satisfying place in the game acknowledge that it takes an unbelievable investment of time and resources in activities that are not fun to be able to fund activities we actually enjoy – unless we pay real dollars for PLEX to sidestep the poor design of the game (as I now, in fact, do). Now imagine the masses of new players realizing it will take a month of Venture mining to afford their first Retriever, plus an additional week to afford a Miasmos and the skills to fly it so that they can sell their Venture ore efficiently, and it’s easy to see why 90% of new players quit within two weeks.

    (2) More to the point – and related to the observation above – CCP seems to balance income around the most extreme playstyles in the game without regard for the impact on ordinary players. A small number of players AFK multibox Rorquals, so CCP cuts the nullsec ore available to everyone by 90%. A small number of players spend 18 hours a day running Havens and Sanctums in VNIs and supercarriers, so CCP nerfs anomaly spawn rate, the VNI, and fighter application for everyone. CCP makes PVE income untenable for ordinary players because a tiny proportion of the player population abuses certain mechanics – then wonders why attrition is so high among ordinary players.

    Now, I’m not arguing that the nerfs described above were unnecessary. But CCP has *got* to figure out a way to balance player income so that newer players – and just regular average players who don’t have twenty accounts and 18 hours a day to log in – can still make enough ISK to fund a reasonable level of participation in activities they actually enjoy. I don’t pretend that’s an easy task, but I’m also not the one struggling to come to terms with extraordinary player attrition – that’s CCP.

    April 1, 2020 at 1:44 PM
    • I think the last para is the one CCP needs to focus on: keeping average players – like me with just two accounts – and newbies happy. I probably now count as a bittervet, with 10 years in the game, but it’s taken this long to get myself into a place where I feel comfortable and can enjoy my play style. And now CCP seems to want to take it away. Can’t say I feel that happy about it.

      April 1, 2020 at 4:28 PM
      • Simon Chui chthulan

        If the goal is to put average players on a more equal footing with ‘extreme’ players i.e. 1 hour per day vs 16 hours lol, the answer would be to have severe diminishing returns for time spent in game. Consider if, in your first hour, you can make 80% of the total isk you’ll ever make that day. Play another hour, you’ll make 80% of the remaining, so 96% of total. That way, a person who grinds 24 hours a day only benefits 4% more than the two hours a day player. That guy wouldn’t be playing for the isk, only for fun.

        I suspect some long term players do manage to get themselves into that position, which is healthy. The question is, how to get all players there.

        A lot of games have daily quests that give you a significant bonus. In hearthstone, for example, the daily will get you 60 gold within 3 games, whereas normal grinding you get about 5 gold per 3 games. So the guy who plays 12 times as long only gets double the benefit.

        By that logic, the skilling spree type content on eve is in the right direction and should be expanded upon, more carefully balanced, and be tied to the activities more casual players enjoy doing. Maybe a random quest each day, could be for mining, exploring, do a few missions, whatever will take about an hour of a day, and that will give you a reward equal to maybe 12 to 16 hours of normal grinding.

        April 2, 2020 at 12:33 AM
        • chthulan Simon Chui

          That would make a lot of sense. Especially when you see (as I just have) what’s clearly one individual with about eight accounts and eight Rorquals hoovering up an ice field. None of the characters is more then six months old. This is pay to win. I hate it.

          April 5, 2020 at 3:48 PM
    • Veteran eve players who have been enjoying the means to make wealth for years = Boomers

      New players and anyone behind the curve = Millennials

      The thing is, losses have meaning already. Unless CCP remove the ability to plex it’s hard to take their goal as anything other than simply a hypocritical means with which to push the average player towards more plex sales.

      April 2, 2020 at 8:27 AM
      • Yes, EVE was so much easier back in the day, when each new player was dumped into space with an Ibis, 5,000 ISK, and like four pre-trained skills they didn’t choose during a character creation process which didn’t even tell them what their character attributes really did.

        April 4, 2020 at 12:22 PM
        • SadDK Ganthrithor

          Uphill both ways in the snow?

          April 6, 2020 at 4:14 PM
          • Uphill both ways in an unidentified, undocumented white substance while players on EVE-O debated whether it was a feature or a bug while they waited for crashed nodes to come back online.

            April 6, 2020 at 8:04 PM
    • I, for one, preferred the game when I was a lot poorer. If you think it’s rough getting started in EVE in 2020, imagine how hard it was in 2006 before CCP handed new players some kind of ship relevant to their career interests, gave them a tutorial, and passed them a chunk of un-assigned skillpoints to play with 😀

      For the longest time (first couple of years?) I struggled to maintain a wallet balance that would let me afford to replace heavily-subsidized fleet battleship hulls. I’d need 20M or something for the difference between insurance payout and SRP, and to get it I had to spend hours shooting belt rats in a fukkin Vexor because back then PvE was actually dangerous and I couldn’t afford to lose an un-SRPed ratting battlecruiser or battleship.

      The game just lost all its appeal to me when we reached a stage where one could casually farm capship kills all day long (with a sprinkling of supercarrier kills on top) and barely rate as having caused an inconvenience to your enemies. I used to spend hours and hours every day hunting down and killing every enemy I could ambush because back in the day when I started playing EVE, killing someone’s Iteron V full of whatever or blowing up their ratting battleship would literally cripple and destroy alliances over time. Nowdays unless you’re just machine-gunning supercapitals (which is usually impossible to do on a regular basis because umbrellas prevent small fleets from killing anything and anybody who brings a competitive supercapital fleet to town finds their enemies just run away) you’re not making a dent.

      I think CCP are absolutely right to slash incomes aggressively. If newbies are quitting because they can’t get a Miasmos, CCP can always make adjustments at the small end of the food-chain to make their first weeks less-grindy. But the game can’t continue in its current state of overabundance: nobody needs to fight if there’s enough of everything to go around. If nobody fights, what’s the point? EVE is supposed to be a struggle for survival– it’s what makes EVE “feel real,” and it ~*was*~ one of the game’s few redeeming qualities.

      April 4, 2020 at 11:54 AM
  • SadDK

    Have you ever gone to a work meeting where someone uses Powerpoint to pull out a dazzling array of graphs, tables and ratings to justify some bullshit, only to walk out of there wondering what the heck just got approved?

    That is this presentation from CCP in a nutshell. Made up ratings and charts to justify further income nerfs so that maybe you’ll plex up. We be BDO now boys.

    April 1, 2020 at 5:54 PM
    • chthulan SadDK

      Yes, follow the money is always a good philosophy when wondering stuff happens. They want us to buy Plex not play for free. I sometimes manage to Plex a month or two at time but that’s all, because I don’t spend enough in-game making ISK because – well, I’ve got other stuff to do…

      April 2, 2020 at 3:41 PM
  • Rammel Kas

    There seems to be a disconnect to what I usually find new players asking me. One of the first questions they would usually ask within the first 5 minutes of a conversation would be along the lines of “can I make it free to play?”. Given the in-game PLEX market that seems reasonable, doesn’t it?

    I do not see a universe where this model of theirs won’t turn into a hypocritical lie to those new players.

    :CCP: should read up about what happened in real life when a misguided economic plan to fix OTHER areas impacted a natural disaster scarcity. The potato famine stands as one of the stark examples where unfettered conceptual thinking near enough killed a nation. I should hope we never live to see such clever fools again.

    You see it still has to relate back to what people would find fun. This seems to be missing that on quite a few counts.

    April 2, 2020 at 8:02 AM
  • Glad there’s an entity out there that can still make the US’ response to coronavirus look timely and effective. I’d say these conclusions from CCP are what… five to eight years late? And probably another two years before these slideshow items are actually addressed? Yikes.

    April 4, 2020 at 12:25 PM