Challenging CCP’s decisions are almost a sport for EVE players. Be it in you corp comms channels or openly on any one of the many EVE media outlets like INN.
In their defense, CCP has one of the most daunting jobs in all of gaming. EVE Online is one of the most complex games in existence today. CCP freely admits that they often are unable to anticipate how players will react in-game and use the changes they make. That is not a hit on CCP and the Devs. That is a confirmation of the complexity of managing the environment.
It’s easy to pile on CCP, but that is not the intent of this article. There may even be very good reasons CCP and developers, in general, don’t do some of the things I suggest. The sole intent of this article is to generate discussion. Because when we talk about, argue about and post about EVE the game wins. When we stop being passionate about EVE is the day EVE truly dies.
View the Player Differently
View the player as a customer. Too often it feels as if CCP views players as a population to control and guide rather than consumers of their product. That does not mean bend to every whim and desire posted by the player base. This is as much about salesmanship, generating excitement, and controlling the message as anything. Most of the changes below build on this concept.
Understand EVE is Pay to Have Shiny Things
You can say EVE isn’t pay to win. In many ways this is correct. But, in EVE you can indeed pay to have any in-game item you want. You can pay to perfectly skill a character. This was done by Ironbank when skill injectors were released with casino ISK. Any item on the market or contracts can be purchased with real world money converted to in-game ISK. That means players will use real-world money to get new and awesome things in the game.
Change the Process
The first and foremost change I would make would be to alter the change methodology. Nothing spurs emotions like the nerf bat. More often than not these are very negative reactions. It doesn’t matter if the nerf is needed to help keep the game healthy. No one likes their cheese moved or worse yet taken away.
This isn’t as much CCP’s fault as it is a failure in gaming development in general. Developer releases new OP thing and everyone rushes to exploit the new powers. Two things go on when this happens. Players expend time and treasure (in game ISK and real world money) to obtain the new thing and a lot of players adopt the use of the new thing. Once the developer decides the power of the new thing is OP they nerf it.
By starting with items that have a lower initial impact and slower adoption in the game all aspect of impact are held in check. Slower adoption allows production to more easily keep with demand. Moderate increases in capabilities reduce the impact to the ecosystem of EVE’s markets. Its impact on the psychology of the customer plays out differently as well. rather than CCP taking something away from players they are viewed as giving things as they gently increase capabilities. This leads to a more positive experience rather than negative drama ridden Reddit and forum posts.
Communications need to flow from a consistent source. Stop having various teams use various methods. Communicate on a clear and consistent path. Don’t use dev blogs, Reddit posts and internal forum posts for similar announcements. CCP should establish a non-Dev related process to release announcements of changes and new content.
Putting Devs out of the front line of announcements ties ownership to them forever. CCP Greyscale is long gone and he will forever be saddled with the blame for the current jump mechanics. Likewise, CCP Fozzie will forever be the namesake of FozzieSOV.
Use internal systems to host and communicate with players. Use external systems to refer to those posts.
Maintain the Uniqueness of Tasks
One can look at this in a few ways. You don’t want overlap of tasks players do. The moon mining change is a great example of this creeping issue. We have ice mining. We have ore mining. Now we have moon goo mining. Why take a unique task and make it just like something else? Not everyone likes to mine. You’re not likely to convert many POS owners into moon goo miners. What you will do is alter what miners go after to the highest risk reward.
I would walk this back as an example.
Code reuse is a good thing for common procedural tasks in your code base. It should not be a driver for gameplay. Don’t be cost effective and make two very different types of gameplay the same. CCP needs to understand the variety of gameplay is a positive in a long-lived game like EVE. The players need it to allow growth and reduce burnout.