Why the CSM – and therefore all of us – are failing High Sec

Dod o'Dixie 2017-03-17

It’s that time of the year again when players – often with little qualification to do so – scream from the heavens about how we need to fix the game we love/hate under the guise of CSM candidacy. As usual there are the obvious problems of sov mechanics and their nullification of gameplay, the potential concerns surrounding new features that CCP have announced, and the NPE pulling players out of High Sec and into the rest of the game. Yet is the NPE the real problem with High Sec?

CCP’s own figures show their development of the NPE couples with the addition of Alpha clones has been a success. CCP has announced that this has been one of their golden patches of profitability and this is a good thing for all players in all parts of space. Numbers of new and returning players have been noticeably growing and groups like Karmafleet that encourage them to try null-sec life have been growing also. The only way we and CCP could invite more people to try out the sandbox under the current mechanics any further would be to tinker with sandcastles we can prepare for them.

So when FanFest rolls around and CCP Quant releases his figures on sec participation, does anyone expect the vast discrepancy between the number of players in High Sec and other sec statuses to be diminished? In our hearts we all know the answer will be no.

When talking about High Sec, CSM candidates often fall into 2 camps: those who want to improve industry and other activities which don’t require players to interact with each other; and those who talk about improving the NPE to get more players out of High Sec space. Speaking as a reluctant High Sec resident, I think this misses the biggest reasons people don’t leave High Sec after the NPE: ‘The Cliff’ of fear and boredom.

‘The Cliff’

In the NPC corps of High Sec, whenever a new player asks for advice of how to progress, there is a stock line of advice – follow the NPE the do the SoE mission arc to learn what you’re interested in and then join a corp that specialises in that area. So what happens if these small tasters doesn’t whet one’s appetite?

I have been playing the game on and off for a year and yet I still don’t know what I want to do. Not being able to commit much more than casual hours to a game, I have tried most things in High Sec before getting bored because of how hard it is to do most things that require engagement with others in an area of space that discourages it. This is the natural step to move to a corp, yes?

Try something for me. Open the game and click on the corp finder. Choose any profession and choose new player friendly and High Sec as your area of operations. After all, using the language of games the starting area should be the place to learn the basics of how to play, no? This is the point of the NPE being in High Sec instead of randomly spawning in an area of space. Have a look at the list of corps advertised based on CCP’s ‘best match’ system.

I will be willing to bet you that the top 5 corps proport to do everything. Want to mine? Join us! Want to PvP? That’s great too? Ganking? You know we have miners right? If you have a group of people who are all pulling in different directions, they can’t possibly go anywhere. Would you join any of these overly generalist, directionless, low member count corps? How can you learn from a corp that doesn’t know what it wants to be?

So, again, using the language of games, one’s next natural thought is to move on from the ‘starting area’ to the next level – low sec. So you jump to the gate – excited yet nervous – ready to move onwards. And then a message pops-up that is designed to advised players of the increased risk of Low Sec space. Yet, instead of weighing up the risk/reward ratio or make it a natural evolution of gameplay, it only serves to overstate the risk and ignore the possible rewards of leaving High Sec. It may as well read as follows:

IF YOU JUMP THIS GATE, YOU WILL LOSE YOUR SHIP AND, BECAUSE YOU’VE HAD TO MINE NON-STOP FOR A WHOLE MONTH TO GET TO THIS POINT, YOU’LL LOSE ALL YOUR PROGRESS UP TO NOW AS WELL. I MEAN, WHAT BENEFIT CAN THERE REALLY BE ON THE OTHER SIDE OF HERE? NO, TURN AROUND. YOU DON’T WANT TO RISK IT. GO HOME.

People are naturally risk adverse and, for a game that sells itself as riskier and freer than all others, such a warning seems so damning to the spirit of the game it is in. It’s why freighter pilots complained about Burn Jita – High Sec is sold as nigh-on risk-free which, in itself isn’t bad. But when other sec spaces are sold in a negative light of being of increased risk instead of in the positive light of being higher reward, High Sec becomes the safe space in the minds of players. And safe is boring. So you go to the corp finder and…

And this is ‘The Cliff’. And it’s all your fault

Remember those CSM candidates? They are elected by your vote. Or, even worse, by the absence of your vote. Have you asked them how they plan to lobby CCP to get players who have become ‘stuck’ in High Sec out? Have you discussed with them their ideas on how to engage players with a community they haven’t been able to engage with before?

I don’t want to be a hypocrite. Complaining about people shouting ‘NPE!’ whenever matters of High Sec and engagement without offering an alternative is the easy choice. So how about we pose these questions to our potential CSM candidates instead.

  • Do you feel the warnings of changes of sec status should be changed to show the positive side over the negative, risk-focused warnings we have on gates and missions currently?
  • Do you think CCP needs to prioritise a smarter corp-finder as a matter of importance?
  • Should CCP consider High Sec as Eve’s version of a ‘starter area’ and, if so, how should they make moving from High Sec a more natural process of player evolution if they wish to take it?
  • How will you suggest CCP use the natural language of games to develop the sandbox so no-one feels ‘stuck’ in High Sec?

I can’t tell you how to vote from there but, by asking these questions, perhaps we will see an evolution within the game that doesn’t focus on just the easy answer to High Sec’s problems that is often trotted-out: NPE.

Dod o’Dixie is a High Sec pilot who has no direction in game and is the most casual of casuals.

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Comments

  • Bill Bones

    First thing first: people staying in highsec is not a problem, thus, it doesn’t needs to be fixed. People staying in highsec is the profit cow where CCP earns the money for the smaller minorites doing null, low and WH stuff. so the real problem is people leaving both highsec and the game altogether.

    EVE needs the kind of player who stays in highsec i.e. someone whose “risk” level is suit to highsec AS IT IS. They are the bulk of the playerbase. They also are the vast majority of any potential users (people who still haven’t played EVE) left for CCP to replace the parting players.

    Plain and simple, after 13 years, EVE Online is a game where people log in, play in highsec, amass bilions and then leave. SOME people go to null, SOME people PvP, SOME people become cool guys having drinks with devs in Reykjavik, but the money for CCP it’s in the guy leveling his Raven and then removing it from the game by going inactive after roughly 2 years in highsec.

    The reason why EVE economy remains healthy althouhh production triples destruction it’s because inactive accounts remove anything between 30 and 60x more money from the economy than PvP does. So the real economy flux in EVe is:

    Each month, 3 ISK are produced, 1 isk is destroyed and 50 isk disappear into inactive accounts.

    Each month, 25 months worth of production are removed from the game as players leave it.

    Highsec is the proverbial elephant in the room. It si not a “starter area”, but the reason why EVE still is alive after 13 years. And also the slow destruction of highsec since Rubicon is the reason why EVE is going south no matter how Hilmar tries to spin CCP’s one year record to prospective buyers. You can only sell a launch app with a new hardware once. You can only go “F2P” once. You can only convince investors that VR is a thing before it crashes and burns and your company’s main future asset becomes useless.

    Then 2017 comes and goes and unless someone buys CCP, you’ll be left with a company whose cash cow EVE is decaying at the same rate as development is drained from keeping EVE’s cash cow healthy and resources pour into “cooler” but financially unsustainable gameplay. Nullsec can’t pay for nullsec’s development. WH and low, they even less. PvP can’t pay for PvP’s development. Remove highsec, kill it player by apleyr, nerf by nerf and month by month of neglect, and you’ll be left with a cool highsec-free game which just happened to lose 60% of its income.

    March 17, 2017 at 8:02 am
    • Sylphinja the Dark Rose Bill Bones

      ^ So say we all.

      March 17, 2017 at 8:34 am
    • Smeghammer Bill Bones

      You could’ve just said eve is dying.

      March 17, 2017 at 11:25 am
    • Bozo Bill Bones

      “Each month, 3 ISK are produced, 1 isk is destroyed and 50 isk disappear into inactive accounts.
      Each month, 25 months worth of production are removed from the game as players leave it.”

      Where are you getting that from? CCP Quant’s statistics certainly don’t support those figures.

      Reality check: according to you, two years’ worth of EVE growth are removed per month. So forget super and citadel proliferation, in your reality we’ll all be in noobships by the end of the year. Sounds fun.

      March 21, 2017 at 6:03 pm
      • Bill Bones Bozo

        I will point to you, free of charge, where’s your mistake.

        Production is not the only source of growth.

        The larger picture is:

        In february 2017:

        108 ISK were injected from faucets;
        68 ISK were removed through sinks;
        3 ISK were created;
        1 ISK was destroyed;
        50 ISK disappeared into inactive accounts;
        And overall economy lost 0.4 ISK in value for a grand total of 983.23 ISK

        “1 ISK” means “one trillion”, just using this scale makes more sense when you use amounts of money that aren’t related to Zimbabwe dollars.

        Production/destruction are little affairs in the big picture. The real money comes from PvE and is removed via NPC costs plus parting players.

        This is some people’s vaunted “PvP game” in a nutshell.

        March 21, 2017 at 11:18 pm
  • Toxic Yaken

    I’ll take a stab at some of these questions since I’m running for CSM this year as a Highsec candidate…

    Do you feel the warnings of changes of sec status should be changed to show the positive side over the negative, risk-focused warnings we have on gates and missions currently?

    I think that these exist because players were wandering into these areas of space and getting blown up without realizing that they had left Highsec. It’s very similar to an idea pitched by CSM XI to warn newer players if they significantly overload their cargo holds with assets to be wary of predatory players. Risk will continue to exist, it’s a matter of whether or not CCP thinks it is worth upholding the notion of constant player threat over unclear gameplay. There definitely is the risk for Highsec players quickly getting burned out on lack of fun, interaction, and the general fears that come with other regions of space – I know I did when I first tried EVE, and only found my way on my second try after being ganked in a brand new exhumer.

    Do you think CCP needs to prioritise a smarter corp-finder as a matter of importance?

    Personally I don’t think the in game corporation advertisement tool is all that great for finding corporations, and when I was looking for a corp I tended to look for advertisements in the recruitment channel. I’d be interested in hearing any suggestions to improve upon the current system, (Maybe including information about direction for the future of the corporation?) but I think the issue lies more with the bad corporations themselves, and new players not really knowing what to look for without a good idea of what they want to do in EVE.

    Should CCP consider High Sec as Eve’s version of a ‘starter area’ and, if so, how should they make moving from High Sec a more natural process of player evolution if they wish to take it?

    I think that CCP already does consider Highsec a starter area, but I don’t agree that moving from Highsec needs to be a natural process, as newer players leaving Highsec tend to only do so with other players or groups. It would be great to see CCP push for players to venture out into riskier space as part of the NPE to give them a better understanding of how the greater universe really functions, but for newer solo players you’re pretty logistically stuck to either living in either Highsec or Lowsec.

    How will you suggest CCP use the natural language of games to develop the sandbox so no-one feels ‘stuck’ in High Sec?

    I really want the NPE to include an explanation of the different types of space a pilot can live in to try and take some of the edge off of living in more dangerous space. Explain some of the reasons why players would live in X space, and maybe include some of the mechanical differences (Lowsec not having CONCORD, Wormholes having modifiers, etc.) I assume that CCP probably has objections to defining what role a region of space has or how players should play in different types of space as part of upholding the sandbox mentality of EVE, but it could go a long way for those who are interested in learning.

    March 17, 2017 at 9:05 am
    • Alaric Faelen Toxic Yaken

      Good responses, Toxic.
      I wonder- do you think that the broken risk vs reward balance is not the underlying problem with high sec- specifically that so few people ever leave it?
      Calling high sec a ‘starter area’ fails utterly when looking at the reality of the situation. High sec is merely a ‘farming area’ that is more exploited by older players than new ones.
      Because, no one is complaining about new players being in a safer (not safe) area- the problem is that care bear players can essentially squat in these newb areas and simply farm more to overcome the lack of rewards. This completely undercuts any effort at advancing people within the game, or diversification of the various space types.
      If high sec is, according to you, a starting area for Eve, then how do you plan on dealing with the legion of 100mil SP characters that squat there forever hiding behind that ‘new player’ safety net?
      I don’t think many players see increased safety for new players as the problem with high sec…it’s that same security for people who most definitely are not newbs that that is at the heart of the issue.
      The problem with high sec goes directly back to broken risk vs reward and I’d like to hear your thoughts on that topic.
      Cheers.

      March 18, 2017 at 1:54 pm
    • Highsec can be both an area of the game where people decide to live, and a starter area.
      Incursions probably need a nerf, doesn’t mean highsec in general does.

      March 21, 2017 at 12:49 pm
  • Pew Pew

    I love games which are story generators. EVE is a great story generator. There’s the Nullsec stories about empires rising and falling but there’s also highsec stories about industrialists rising and falling, competing on thin margins, risking attack by gankers and mercs, occasionally getting burned at Jita (4 kids of course).

    I don’t see how that should be considered inferior.

    IMO social interaction is the main force which makes people stay in the game so play to that. I think the aim of Highsec should be to get people interacting with each other as much as possible.

    Like missions that require multiple ships (2 beacons need pressing simultaneously). Maybe PI gives you a multiplier if you connect your setup to another players’. Moving more and more of the commerce of the game to player owned structures. Make mining ships have either large cargo holds OR big lasers which mine a lot (jetcan mining used to be really fun, even Hilmar said it was one of his first great EVE social experiences, when they got rid of it we lost something).

    Or actual better ideas than these. Yeah people could do all this with alts if they really wanted. But my point is if they get started with social interaction they may really get into it and play longer -> more money for ccp -> more content for everyone.

    March 17, 2017 at 9:14 am
  • Erick Asmock

    In EVE no one is “stuck” in HS. Not even Alphas. Anyone of any aged character can go to NS and be welcomed and nurtured by a corp. Our corp has done it and so have many other corps and alliances. If one is stuck in HS it is their own doing by not taking a leap.

    There is no doubt that you can train into a much better and more profitable industrialist or miner and make more money in NS faster than you can in HS. Nothing will get a player better guidance and training in what to train and how to do things than hanging with the seasoned folks. There is a reason Delve and other places are hub of activity.

    You also don’t address that a good many HS players are alts of NS players. Many corps are quiet groups from NS using HS for easier access for markets and the like.

    March 17, 2017 at 11:11 am
  • Rolfski

    I don’t mind people sticking to the safety of High Sec. The bigger problem is PvE being generally boring in this game imo. It’s causing way more people to unnecessary quit the game that would avoid PvP anyway.

    March 17, 2017 at 1:23 pm
    • Sullen Decimus Rolfski

      The fact you think that this is the CSM’s fault is a hilarious example of uninformed judgement. If you would have read the summit meeting minutes from fall of 2016 you would have seen responses directly related to this.

      “CCP Seagull then asked each member of the CSM for what they really want to see on the roadmap. They answered:”

      “Better and more engaging NPCs -Sullen”
      “More Social PvE –Jin’taan”

      You should probably investigate more before making blanket statements while clearly doing zero research.

      March 20, 2017 at 6:45 pm
      • Rolfski Sullen Decimus

        Too little, too late. PVE being ridiculously boring has been a fundamental problem forever in this game. And CSM can definitely be blamed for never giving it high enough priority over the years.

        March 20, 2017 at 7:23 pm
        • Sullen Decimus Rolfski

          I’m not responsible for previous CSM’s but THIS CSM has pushed PVE quite a bit. So over simplifying and saying ALL CSM are responsible just shows you did zero research.

          March 20, 2017 at 8:46 pm
          • Rolfski Sullen Decimus

            I can understand you want to defend your CSM contribution but “better and more engaging NPCs” and “more social PvE” is simply not going to cut it to fundamentally improve the PVE part of this game. Any modern MMO will do elemental PVE gameplay stuff like crafting, base building, questing/missioning and even mining a whole lot better than this game does. And your CSM and every CSM before it has simply failed to properly address and fix these issues.

            And even issues you did address are still not fixed: Where the hell is fun coop for alpha clones? Why oh why am I not fighting enemies with other players in my first hours of this game, when everybody knows that playing with others is by far the best way to keep new players sticking to this game? It’s ridiculous that it takes 10+ years and decreasing subscription numbers to put the NPE and stuff like this even on the agenda.

            March 21, 2017 at 12:17 pm
          • Sullen Decimus Rolfski

            “And your CSM and every CSM before it has simply failed to properly address and fix these issues.”

            We can say what we want. We can’t force CCP to do anything. Do you not realize nobody on the CSM programs a damn thing in the game? You’ sound like someone who just wants a CSM member that is going to jump on the table and scream to change something, when all CCP will do is literally plug their ears to the person.

            March 21, 2017 at 9:17 pm
          • Rolfski Sullen Decimus

            If the CSM can’t even get the most daring issues of this game on CCP’s agenda over the course of decade, then what is the use of a CSM anyway? Exactly, nothing.

            However, that is not the case here. This PVE and NPE stuff simply never made it to CCP’s agenda with high priority for a long time, because the nullsec-dominated CSM just never cared enough.

            It’s the core problem of this game’s development really: The main perspective has always been that from big alliance nullsec veteran, who typically couldn’t care less about the stuff that makes the average player stick to a game like this.

            March 24, 2017 at 2:53 am
  • Alaric Faelen

    It always goes back to risk vs reward vs fun.
    If the high sec care bear was rewarded according to the risks they take, then it would take a month of shooting asteroids to afford a single Rifter.
    But that wouldn’t be fun as a game, so the rewards in high sec are outlandishly large considering the sheer lack of risk required. There is always going to have to be some compromise made, but CCP has allowed that thin line to become a yawning cavern of disparity.
    High sec safety wouldn’t be a bad thing IF it were benefiting new players- instead it serves only to benefit professional care bears with 100mil SP but have never crossed into .4 space and below.
    It’s ridiculous that by far the richest players and most expensive ships exist solely in the space with supposedly the least risk+reward. Most games punish players for squatting in newbie areas. But Eve actually rewards this behavior, and players simply abuse the system (then go on to complain about how boring Eve’s PvE is despite the fact that they themselves make it so).

    March 17, 2017 at 1:46 pm
  • luobote kong

    Better still. Let’s have no CSM at all. That way everyone is equally unrepresented.

    March 17, 2017 at 2:33 pm
    • Jump Clone luobote kong

      this ! the CSM is the problem, not the solution

      March 18, 2017 at 2:34 pm
    • As far as I’ve ever been aware, the CSM have no voting power on any issue – just the role of usually getting to speak their opinions before CCP does whatever it is CCP planned to do -.-
      I see no point in voting for glorified stage props whos’ greatest claim to fame is belonging to a discussion form that the devs are obligated to read through -.-

      March 19, 2017 at 6:10 pm
  • Jump Clone

    Maybe I’m wrong, but I thought CCP was in charge of Eve ? In fact, when the whole CSM petitionned to get the infamous wrecks hp change, were they to blame ? Hell no : CCP couldn’t ignore how HS works…

    March 18, 2017 at 11:23 am
  • Gigi Bellon

    Should CCP consider High Sec as Eve’s version of a ‘starter area’ and, if so, how should they make moving from High Sec a more natural process of player evolution if they wish to take it?
    No, the solution is not making people want to leave h-s, just because you want to feed your goons ranks, but there should be a more engaging high-sec, right now the game helps only the mindless people that wanna join a big alliance with no identity, and ccp keeps feeding null-sec with more and more good ways to be the only alternative, if null-sec was more available for the small corps than yes, i would agree that high-sec to null-sec should be the natural progress for a player, but if you wanna just play the game with your friends and in a small corp, and ccp don’t want to make null.sec very accesible for you, than at least should give the palyers a better high-sec experience.

    March 18, 2017 at 3:45 pm
  • Anonymoose

    I don’t really agree with the idea that highsec is a starter zone and all efforts should be focused on getting people out of highsec. Highsec is actually an incredibly interesting sector of space mostly because almost everybody is there, and the safety and easy access to goods allows for a much more casual play style where a player could just stop playing for a few months and not have to come back and move their shit half way across space to wherever their corp moved.

    The problem is that Hi Sec PVE is boring and doesn’t generally offer much interaction with other players, and the war dec feature is sort of a relic from an era where EVE was much more of a Role Playing game than it is now (did you know that people used to hold people for ransom in lowsec? that’s insane). Like an easy way to encourage better and more Hi Sec corps to pop up would be to just allow corps to opt out of wardeccing entirely (as long as they don’t anchor structures). There’s probably a better solution to the wardec problem but as it is now the risk vs reward for creating a goofy starter community corp in hisec is pretty out of wack (you’re basically throwing all of the safety of hisec in the garbage for a chatroom), and what most people want out of a player organization in an mmo is just a group of people to talk to and work with towards some arbitrary, generally easily achievable goal. Most people don’t want to lock down a pipe in NPC null during European hours (no matter how big the in game rewards for that could be) or whatever and that’s fine.

    The sort of in space conflict that High Sec excels at is shit like suicide ganking and shooting MTUs, punishing people who overbling their ship or just causing some light mischief that can snowball if people handle it a certain way, we need more stuff like that, and honestly I don’t fucking understand the sec status system at all, all it does is restrict suicide ganking as a play style to specialized alts / vacationing nullsec characters and it could use a major rethink.

    March 18, 2017 at 11:39 pm
  • Rhivre

    There are more of us than you think who are “log on, log off” that pay attention to things 😉

    Edit: It might be better phrased as the average player doesn’t pay much attention to either the meta or CSM, regardless of where they fly or how often they log on for or how active they are in your alliance/corp chat

    March 20, 2017 at 9:20 pm
  • Sullen Decimus

    This article is hilarious. Hilarious in that it literally states how little of research the author did into the work the CSM has done. Specifically for PVE.

    To begin with the NPE is a huge part of the PVE experience. CCP is fully aware of the “cliff” as you put it and we have virtually all voiced an opinion regarding it. But I don’t blame you for not knowing that. However, multiple CSM’s (myself included) sat through a THREE HOUR TOWNHALL about nothing but the PVE in eve.

    Here since you were too lazy to do any real research before publishing https://forums.eveonline.com/default.aspx?g=posts&m=6620934

    Furthermore, if you would have read the first summit minutes you would have read this.

    “CCP Seagull then asked each member of the CSM for what they really want to see on the roadmap. They answered:”

    “Better and more engaging NPCs – Sullen”
    “More Social PvE – Jin’taan”
    “More high-risk, high reward PvE – Gorski”

    So as you can see, the CSM has made A LOT of effort into improving the PVE. It’s up to CCP as to the direction they want to go. You should do more research into your topic before publishing such an obviously ignorant article.

    March 20, 2017 at 9:32 pm
    • Xenuria Sullen Decimus

      Doing research is hard.

      March 20, 2017 at 10:24 pm
    • Bravest Newbie Sullen Decimus

      Did he actually say anything about the pve experience. I feel you made a little bit of jump there in your rhetoric. He mostly talked about helping people get out of hi-sec and what progression would that entail. I don’t remember reading any complaints about pve. I don’t know, sometimes I find reading hard so maybe I missed something.

      March 24, 2017 at 4:58 pm
  • Bozo

    The warning on lowsec gates is so players will be warned they can lose their ships to other players there. Tons of new players ignore it, go mine or rat in lowsec, and are surprised when they get ganked. Also, selling lowsec as an area of untold riches is simply untrue. For a new player, neither it, nor null or w-space, are gold mines.

    Players are lazy, whiny entitled bitches. Tell them there’s more gold in lowsec, and they’ll flock there before ragequitting after they got ganked. In EVE you can get rich, but you will not automatically become so, that’s why the warnings are there.

    The fact that PVE and industry are marginally interactive is something that multiple players, and the CSM, have raised with CCP. At some point, we were treated to the prospect of a new PVE experience, but it seems CCP have gone back to dealing with emergencies, aka fixing the mess they created with the Rorqual, being late with the drilling platforms and other stuff. Working as usual.

    A proper corp finder would be great. It’s also not easy.
    Remember that being shit and having dreams is part of what EVE is about. Thousands of new players grind their personal Astrahus and hope that will be the cornerstone to a vast empire. If you prevent relatively new players from recruiting because that’ll
    likely end up in a shit corp, not only do you take away from the sandbox, you rule out the possibility of Goonswarm
    (the old one, not the current one) or Brave Newbies.
    An increasing number of players end up in the large corps like PH and KF already. Is that good for the game?

    Last but not least: some people just like highsec. They’re not newbies waiting to be ready to upgrade to nullsec, they have lived in other areas of space and have found highsec to be the place for them. Nothing wrong with that, too, except in the Imperium narrative that EVE is about sovnull and everything else is a starter dish or a sideshow.

    March 21, 2017 at 10:44 am