Transcript: CCP Rattati Interview

2021-03-06

Art by Major Sniper

[Editor’s Note: Twitch streamer and EVE Online Partner Oz_Eve interviewed CCP Rattati on March 1. The following transcript of that interview was provided to INN by Drangonteeth. Timestamps appear throughout the transcript for anyone who wants to find that portion of the interview. A link to the original video is at the bottom of the page.]

OZ: We are incredibly honored to have CCP Rattati on today. Rattati welcome to our show, and thank you so much for coming on.

Rattati: Thank you, my pleasure. Always fun to do these things.

OZ: So, I’m guessing, since we typically do like an economic and trading stream, most people know CCP Rattati, but for those that are joining us today and may not know why I’m so excited to have him on I’m going to try my hand at a two-sentence introduction. Maybe you then can fill in the rest.

Rattati started as a financial analyst at CCP actually, and he was the senior producer at DUST 514 at one point. You then became the lead producer for ecosystems until the end of 2020 and then, it seems you got a promotion recently, you’re going to have to fill us in Rattati, you are now called director of product. Maybe fill in the rest and let us know what your job now entails.

Rattati: Yep, you got it right for sure. Started in 2007 as an analyst. Worked on as basically a director of finance and planning with World of Darkness, DUST 514, EVE. So worked a lot with senior teams across basically the world. Yep, moved to Shanghai, worked on DUST 514. Then I worked on a couple more shooters, that were cancelled.

OZ: Unfortunately.

Rattati: Ha, unfortunately. It was a lot of fun, a lot of learning and worked a lot on economy, monetization, progression and pure gameplay on DUST 514 and a lot of that experience I brought over to ecosystem. Kickstarted a lot of projects with the teams there: TALOS, ACTION, and BATCAVE. You know probably TALOS the best, but ACTION is kind of a systems’ foundation industry resources etc., and BATCAVE is mostly known as anti-cheat.

OZ: OK, well…

Rattati: Uh, on the new role yes we did a slight organization and yes my title is now director of product, which means the rest of the segments are also product-managed by me, I would say. So I set up strategy, roadmaps, working on opportunity, discovery etc. With all the teams throughout all the community. We have a lot of interaction with the community. Our senior community manager, he gives us an update, we get all kinds of information from all kinds of places, and it’s my responsibility to prioritize these opportunities and try to fold them into quadrants or non-quadrant features or development.

OZ: Cool! So is your team entirely in Iceland then or spread out globally?

(Timestamp 10:00)

Rattati: So almost all the team is in Iceland today. We have a couple of people working remote, but that is mostly circumstantial.

OZ: So you mentioned your team, and you mentioned that you get a lot of information sent to your team. I asked my community to submit questions beforehand. So we collected them and one of the questions that was asked a lot was, so when we talk about “ecosystem” that has a lot of components right? It has a little bit economics you said, anti-cheating that all kinda fall into the ecosystem. How can we…… If we imagine how your team is working, do you guys have veto powers on things? Do changes originate from your team? How can we imagine you guys working?

Rattati: So, we have segments and one of those segments is ecosystem. So ecosystem was built in a real way like a living ecosystem is. You have your inorganic, you have your natural laws, you have basically the space where organisms live, then you have resources, and then we model ourselves after “What if we introduce a new species into this ecosystem?” like a ship or change a ship. There are always consequences that happen. Sometimes a bad change for the ecosystem sometimes a good one. We have to resource manage. Are people gonna run out of this resource? Are there enough predators? Are there enough prey to make this balanced? And it’s kind of an analogy, but it works really well. So that’s one segment of the ecosystem.

We are also improving that. There are some changes there we are trying to improve …. in a way that we fold in more about the universe itself. So we are actually in …. CCP Burger and I, we are working on a concept called a “living universe,” which is everything that is going on in the universe. So with the tug of war between the Empires, where does all the mining the NPCs do go? Do they build something eventually? Like to create this kind of, way-more dynamic universe with inputs and outputs and players are just one part of this input/output. So they could basically help one faction or another achieve their goals. Kind of like civilization empires that have their own motives, and they want to do things and you [are] just there in their way.

So that’s kinda the vision for that and ecosystem is a big part of it, but also we are thinking more about how to take this forward? How do we create these asteroids and weather patterns that Burger presented last Fan fest (It was EVE Vegas). So kinda taking the universe a step further in the science fiction. The rest of the company is split into more segments. One of which is basically the academy, where its sole focus is trying to get new players into the game. So we have redoubled our efforts into that were have never had more people working on the academy and the new player experience (NPE) and hopefully we will start to see and sharing results about that in 2021

OZ: OK, the other thing that everyone associates with Rattati is the scarcity phase. Or more positively the resource redistribution if you want to put it that way. On our chat, our community that is one of the main topics talk about because it has massive implications on the market and the economy and pretty move everything you do in game. Can you give us an indication of how well you think the whole scarcity measure is working? Maybe to everyone who is joining that has been living under a rock and doesn’t know what I’m talking about scarcity phase. It’s basically in my words, and correct me Rattati, it’s basically an era of abundance in EVE where lots of stockpiles and many resources were amasses and now moving into an ecosystem that is much more impacted by or characterized as austerity and scarcity. So how well has it been working? Are you generally content with the way it’s going?

Rattati: I am content with how it’s going, and you describe it very well. There were a lot of, I would say symptoms of a bad economy a year and a half ago. Which had been going on for longer than that. When I joined EVE I actually took 100 days to make a manifesto of things I thought needed fixed. We are going pretty quickly through that list and getting some results. Some of 2021 is part of that manifesto, kinda things I really want to get done, but ultimately capital proliferation. We have done a lot to kinda combat that, both with making it harder to build them and making them more vulnerable, as you remember. What we hear from the community is actually the balance is really good between the rock, paper, scissors or the play / counter-play in the fleet fights we are seeing today.

I’m actually pretty happy about that, obviously I’m not happy about having to take in, take the reins of this and cull these kinds of activities. No one really wants to, but we deemed it and still deem it important and necessary.

OZ: You’re the bad cop.

Rattati: Ha, we are gonna be fine. I think we are seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. Definitely there is one, I would say, big change to be made. Which is coming soon, it’s not a bad change but a drastic change for sure. It is gonna change the landscape a bit for a lot of people. But then I think we are ready to start redistribution, getting things into the right places. Allow players to build up more of their empires and infrastructure to actually customize their experience.

That’s where we need to get and want to get, and I think it’s not too far away.

OZ: So that sounds like we haven’t seen the worse yet, and by the worst I mean, the worst from a player who likes cash point of view.

Rattati: From a cash perspective I think we are closing onto something really interesting. Reserve Banks that we know about have been part of the ESS system since they launched. I am not gonna tell you how much is in the ESS’s, but it’s a lot. The reserve banks will definitely be coming online this year. A veritable fountain of ISK will be available to those who want to take it, so it’s there for taking for sure.

That one, we are also working on improved mining. We are basically looking to improve the landscape for mining and that’s just gonna be a positive change that is coming soon. I think it will be a pleasant surprise when that’s out here, and it will be the first real step of real positive things to come.

OZ: OK, sounds promising. What I was taken back a little bit by is that you have a scorecard for the ecosystem outlook in the DEV blog and in the economy in the last DEV blog last year you gave yourself a C coming from a D in economy. Which would indicate to me that the redistribution phase where we are going to see more minerals out there again to be mined. It is quite far away because of m logic I would think that would come from A or AAA, which is the highest grade. Can you take my worries away from me?

Rattati: So I think the D to C means that we were gaining vs stockpiles, and we were reigning in the ISK generation. We are obviously seeing ISK is moving from bounties into incursions, red/blue loot and that’s fine. We knew that would happen. Redistribution does not have to wait for A or AAA in that sense. That would mean a part of going from C to B would be redistribution and get the economy into a better state. Is there a mineral missing? Is there too much of a mineral? Now we are into fine-tuning in my opinion. So right now we are making much smaller incisions in that sense. We are using the staple instead of the sledgehammer.

(Time stamp 20:50)

OZ: Ok, and so you have a good visibility of stockpiles and their sizes?

Rattati: Sure, we have all the stockpiles of all materials and ships in EVE.

OZ: the reduction of stockpiles you have seen in the last year, was that as you expected? Is that how you expected them to go down, or slower or faster?

Rattati: So, the war helped. For sure. I would say that when we started this journey I was taken aback by the proliferation. If you look at titans and super carriers built it’s a hockey stick. It is a crazy crazy change over time. It used to be a manageable number in the hundreds, all of a sudden we had thousands and thousands of super carriers everywhere. That to me that was a huge symptom and that just is not sustainable at all. Now we are kinda culling back bit, but we are still in the situation of haves and have-nots. The people who have super carriers and haven’t lost them, won’t need to build them, but if they lose them it will be harder to rebuild them. Which means they may not commit them as easily as they used to and maybe becomes a deterrent enough not to scare people into submission. Which was happening regularly.

We still have N + 1 as a problem, but this is where we start. What we would like is a healthier cap and subcap fleet meta, which is actually happening in the war right now, we are seeing a lot of stuff we were not seeing before.

OZ: Are you clear on what caused the hockey stick in the first place and on how to prevent that from happening in the future?

Rattati: So there was a huge change back in the day, I can’t remember exactly when it happened, but there was a massive multiplication of titanium that happened. Where I think it went up 100-fold or 1000-fold, the yield, there was a big meaningful change that happened. The problem is that I don’t think anyone ever foresaw that titans would ever be common. I think that’s why there were no fail-safes in the materials needed to build titans. The problem is that titans are T1 ship and I would say that is one of the fundamental design problems that lead us into this. If we had some other way to control it, we wouldn’t have run into this, we would have had a hand-break or manual-break somewhere during that phase. That’s one way to think about it. Is that kinda unlocked this titanium growth, titan growth, and super carrier growth. We just see how we deal with that.

OZ: So dynamic resource distribution is going to reign that in, in the future?

Rattati: So I think ultimately if we allowed this to happen again it would come at the costs of some trade-offs. So if you wanted Tritanium in your Null-Sec system, and I think CCP PSYCH has explained this before, that if you want this power to build whatever in your system you are also sacrificing something. You are trading Noxcium for Tritanium or something, so yes maybe you will be able to build this type of ship in your system but not all ships all the time.

OZ: OK, are there reactions to the austerity phase that surprised you? I think it is absurd to think that you would know exactly what would happen, like some people expect you to. Right? Because this is something that has never happened. Not in this ecosystem and it’s difficult to apply experience from other games to EVE, because EVE is unique. We have seen thing like basic minerals explode in price to never before seen levels, and lately we saw PI prices drop, that’s not only due to scarcity but due to less structure in space, we also saw salvage prices drop in price drastically. There are a ton of material groups that had their prices drastically change as a result of behavior changes of the player base, a lot due to scarcity. Did you anticipate that, did that surprise you, can you talk about that?

Rattati: Specifically, no we didn’t plan on or try to project which prices would go up or down. We are approaching this as a very dynamic ecosystem, and it’s almost impossible to predict what players will do and whatnot. What we really wanted to prevent was any kind of exploits, any insurance scams, any reprocessing loopholes. These are what we were most concerned about, and I think we haven’t seen any of these happen or manifest.

Obviously the CPI was going to go up, that was pretty clear, but that also creates value for the resource providers over time. As long as the people buying have purchasing power with ISK. So that’s where we are kind of ok, we’ve now pushed the value generation and recipients of that value over to raw resources. All of that stuff should be able to increase in value as long as ISK is coming in. We needed to kinda reign that in to see where the breaking point was, just to measure what is a healthy income and a non-healthy income.

That’s why we implemented the DBS, that has been a really really strong contender for how we do features for now on. It was one of the first dynamic systems we have in EVE, it listens to player input and gives output right into the server. It kind of also new tech we are doing, where you take input from the server outside the server calculate then send back to the server. Those things are actually ways we can increase performance. So trying to offload the monolith as we call it through external service. So one day market, kill mails, these things are the way, we are pruning that away to try to increase the performance of the servers. It’s a huge step for the team, a huge step for EVE, that paves the way forward that I was talking about. Ok are the Empires then actually like … do they have an offline simulation in the sense. Does the Empire take all the things they mine, make decisions, then build things and attack the Caldari or whatever. Like can, we imbue the universe with this kind of almost organism AI.

That’s the future, scarcity isn’t the future. That’s like we need to do this right now. To make sure we haven’t messed up the economy forever, but this is the foundation for the third decade of EVE, is to actually become the most awesome economy simulation that the world has. That’s the vision for the team, and I’m super interested and enthusiastic about how it is going.

OZ: So I have heard before that your other developers are saying dynamic systems are probably the way forward. I was going to ask this a little later but since we are on dynamic systems. I’m into trading, dynamic broker fee’s? Something you have thought about or haven’t yet? Trade is very centralized right now, dynamic broker fees could be a solution to decentralize trading a little bit maybe create a little bit more content, is that an idea you have to throw around or not at all?

Rattati: Oh, definitely. The system cost is one of the probably truly the first dynamic system that was in EVE. It probably needs a bit of tuning like I don’t like that almost everything is produced in one place in the universe. We could do something with that for sure, but I think all of these make sense. Dynamic broker fees for sure, to kind distribute travel, logistics, hauling across the universe. This centralization it’s fine because it’s what people wanted at the time, but if we incentivize different behaviors people will adapt to those and make more choices. i have been doing some industry related Q&A inside the company. I’m talking to some expert industrialist in CCP to get some feedback. This is very interesting too, to have you regional market and your Jita or central market and to have a choice between the choice between This is really cool. It’s actually because of Niraja that Amarr is becoming an actual secondary trade hub which is very interesting.

OZ: Yeah for sure, I talk about that a lot. In the latest ecosystem outlook, you also talk about further defining the differences between the five categories of space. It sounds like you have something in the works for Low Sec and Wormhole space. Low Sec, something about the interaction with High Sec and Wormholes space something about the resources coming out of they’re becoming more valuable. Is there anything you can share about that?

Rattati: What I want to do is to make all of the areas lucrative and desirable to those who want to take the chance. I’ve heard enough that “No one will ever mine in Low Sec” and sentences like that. Of course, they will, if the margins are high enough. So what we want to do is incentive players to want to be everywhere. If that means creating very specific content desirable content for them to be there then yes that’s definitely on the table. We know that there is a lot of interesting loot and ways to make money in wormholes, but also there are way fewer in some cases to make money. We are looking at underutilized resources and create demand for them in the industrial cycle.

That’s goes for everything, that’s why Noxcium has been placed directly in Low Sec. If you need to go Low Sec and mine it. If there are few that means prices are high so its good value for you and if its low everyone will build from Noxcium. The market saves itself in that sense. On that though I think they’re also some case for making these lines almost clearer in that sense. I personally don’t understand why you would, and I can’t blame any reason or design systems at the time I wasn’t here and everything was done with the best interest at the time, I still think it’s strange to build Keepstars in High Sec. That’s just feels weird.

OZ: Haha, that’s a big one

Rattati: I’m not saying we are going to remove them but those things, feel like there is a narrative that’s weird to me. Not the gameplay necessarily and I know the design intent was all everyone can build all structures, and they were priced in that way, that’s what the design was. But I still don’t agree with building mega-spacesations in someone’s backyard. That’s just strange to me. I know that Faction Warfare suffered for it, because you had stations inside game features, and they kinda broke how they work. That’s all fine, we can definitely find a way forward without hurting too many feelings.

OZ: I think nowadays everyone agrees or most agree, but hindsight is 20/20. Also in that Dev blogs you hinting at maybe a new role for Rorquals and Orcas in mining. I understand that as something that’s definitely happening this year. Is that something we are going to be seeing this quadrant?

Rattati: Not by March 31st, no. The things we wanted to do in Q1 are things we already delivered. The Marauder buff was something I personally had a vested interested in, one of the manifestos was that I didn’t understand why this ship wasn’t out there flying. It was meant to be a monumental achievement, it was a high-end subcap battleship T2. This should be flow and it wasn’t. It just lacked purpose, it had a purpose, but it wasn’t able to deliver that purpose. Now that we strengthened that I’m really happy to see it be flown again. We are seeing prices in demand go up and way more flown in space. Its definitely something I’m very happy about. I don’t fly it myself so don’t worry I wasn’t doing it for myself, but it was almost a anomaly in the data with how ill received it was.

Then the formations that was something that TALOS and the team were working and that’s what we have for this quadrant and what we are going into is a very exciting quadrant for sure. TALOS is taking a look at, maybe I’m teasing bit, but we are taking a look at a “year in review” I would say. They are taking a look at something’s we changed last year and maybe improving or tweaking those things based on feedback and based on things we learned. More on that later, kind of iteration. I think that’s something we would like to keep in mind, either we do a gradual iteration pass or group them all up into one big pack of fits and tweaks.

Oz: Do you see an issue with a Rorqual and Orca roles as they are right now?

Rattati: Yes and no, they did everything instead of doing one thing very well. I would like to go back to the original role which was fleet boosters, the same with Orcas. That kinda the high level vision for it, we have some aces up our sleeve to give them a unique role, but I’m saving that for later. But yeah that’s definitely happening in 2021 and soon.

OZ: I’m gonna take that as Q2, but you don’t have to answer that question. You said a “year in review” I have been telling my community that my bet was on scarify phase ending Q1 2021, and I’m about to lose that bet apparently. But then again according to the Dev Blog the redistribution phase and already started, but it started very very slow.

(40:00)

Rattati: So we iterate on the DBS for example, just buffed it across the board. Playing with the number, and we are actually in a pretty healthy state. The big thing about the DBS is that you can’t be lazy and just farm one system. I think that was the major improvement to our habits or player habits. That ensures that people are traveling, they have to more, yes they can locust or whatever. They can switch from one system to the next and wait and do this kind of round-robin, but that means they are in space and maybe someone is watching them and attacking them. It’s not that predicable and as easy. It’s not as easy to maliciously do it at the same time. We are also seeing that the botting behavior has changed quite drastically. We see bots diminish their system really quickly, so they become very identifiable, unless they are smarter bot runners. So that’s helping as a section tool as well for us. Overall a very good way to actually make large scale improvements but changing a single number. We can change how fast the demising returns works, what’s the maximum bounty if you leave it alone etc. So we have a lot of dials to play with, it’s really good. It’s effecting exactly the system we want it. You can see in the MER.

OZ: I guess what I’m trying to get at with the scarcity phase.

Rattati: From a mineral point of view?

OZ: From an ISK point of view or ISK faucet point of view. The DBS would certainly be something but then again, if you have something like a preferred play-style in EVE then you are taking it away from miners and giving it away to ratters in that case. Even though probably the overall ISK faucet of the DBS is lower than the ISK faucet was before for ratting. For the more AFK style of ratting.

Rattati: For the major ratters for sure, for the normal player it shouldn’t change a lot in Null Sec.

OZ: For miners or players who want to mine or like to mine are certainly still waiting for a change.

Rattati: yeah and I think we can safely assume that the rorqual and the orca will be the first step and then there will be follow-up changes with that release.

OZ: OK, you said a “year in review” for me a year in review would mean that a year ago we have a market changes, almost exactly a year ago we have the broker relations changes and machine trading change. I frequently call that the best patch or my favorite patch ever in EVE. But I’m a market trader and I think that change rewarded very strategic market trading instead of 0.1 order changes. A lot of people disagree with me, so chat is gonna explore maybe, but what can you tell us? I talk to a CCP employee here and there, and I hear about very positive things this did for scamming and betting. Can you share a little bit about what a “year in review” for the market changes means to you, and what is has done to the economy in your point of view?

Rattati: I would say small scale normal marketeers have suffered probably. They’re kinda the group that took the biggest hit I would say, casual market players. That’s something we want to look at. The team is going through the feedback channels, and I’m very sure they will come up with three or more ideas how in improve their lives without rolling back the changes. Definitely .1 ISKing is in a much healthier play/counter-play. Market is PvP, industrial is PvP in some way. We really want to remove unfair advantages everywhere. Not just from space, botting is also market botting. A fair playground. I don’t have details on that, but it will be out relatively soon I think.

OZ: Yeah I have heard some parliamentary numbers from the community team, and they look very promising in terms of the scams and bot numbers going down. I’m not a casual market trader, so that’s why I like the trade changes probably.

Rattati: So what I miss from DUST 514 is having these discussions with the community where I would go onto the forums like in the olden days and kinda pitch a couple ideas and have a good discussion. Harden the discussion and come back with an improvement proposal. I miss that. I haven’t been doing a lot of that. More been monitoring feedback after the fact and kinda during the final phases. We always have the CSM to give feedback, but I really want to reintroduce this phase where the community can have a good honing of a feature. One thing that everyone that listening can pitch into a forum thread or Reddit thread about this interview and about the TALOS changes and come up with two or three things we could do differently with wormhole changes, markets changes and give us good constructive feedback. Then I can guarantee that the team will read it.

OZ: Absolutely, I can attest to the fact that I was asked to give feedback about some top the market changes, so there is a lot of outreach happening. I can only answer for myself, but that is something that is definitely happening more than before I think.

I dug up a quote from you on Reddit, I hope that’s ok. Is this from you? It says “Western monetization fails monetization in the east.” In that case western monetization refers to the fair and balanced model where monetization only for skins or cosmetics and eastern being more pay-to-win. Do you still believe that, and what does that mean for EVE today?

Rattati: Um yeah, there is just completely two different cultures, one is way more accepting to being able to pay for advance in real money. The culture aspect, I lived in both places, the culture aspect is you worked hard, you worked hard for you money and you should be able to benefit from your hard work. In the west completely different, I think we have a very clear idea of what pay-to-win is in the west and there has been unfortunate monetization paradigms in a couple of games in the last 5-10 years, no need to name names. They probably have served as very good warning signs and red flags for what to do and what not to.

We are seeing this gambling being struck down etc. and the prevalence of battle passes and seasons passes and seems to be an established line of what is ok and what is not ok. Then you go into the differences of genres of games. I don’t think there is a lot of landmines left in the world of monetization. What we do on EVE is tried to be really really respectful of those. I would be hesitant to say we have done big mistakes in the last few years on that. We are always very sensitive on that. I am personally very sensitive I really loathe pay-to-win and our company culture actually do to. So there are not many crazy ideas going out that we have to strike down internally. It’s all very reasonable, and we are trying to find the best way for the right people.

Usually the best way to design monetization is to start from being helpful and try to find where we can actually assist the player in the best way possible and not exploit them. That’s what we are trying to gauge, what is a good starter pack, what is a good kick off point, and if you are interested in that it’s your probative to use or not. Obviously skins and cosmetics are another thing, but we are pretty well versed in that.

OZ: You are now owned by a Korean company, has that changed the policies you instate in the game or your monetization strategy.

Rattati: Absolutely not, literally zero. I can guarantee that they have absolutely no desire nor shown any will in actually trying to effect any of our decisions. Literally zero. I think, I’m gonna go out on a limb and say, Pearl Abyss, the investment in CCP is a strategic investment into learning what works well in western society. As a MMO that’s still going 17 years we must be doing something right, and I think that’s what a company like Pearl Abyss can learn from us. We can learn from them in the same way they make amazing MMO’s in the east, obviously they have done things that are acceptable in their culture but BDO is doing well in the west as well it’s a beautiful MMO, its very well crafted, it’s a fantastic MMO. So I think it’s a more strategic investment into the west and how long-running MMO’s do it, and I’m hoping we can help them grow their own games. As a, I would say, as a financial instrument they are so much bigger than CCP is from a revenue standpoint, from a company standpoint. That we are a drop in the ocean. Its kinda obvious that they are not trying to force us to try to sell skill points.

(52:00)

OZ: I mean you make up more than 10 or 15 percent of their revenue, that’s more than a drop in the ocean.

Rattati: I would say that, maybe. I think that they look at it differently I would say.

OZ: hah, because they are leaving you alone? So the interaction is just once a quarter Hilmar has to go over there and report…..

Rattati: No actually its very amicable, it just not in an any way controlling. We interact with them regularly we have Slack channels we talk to a lot of the people. We talk to the Echos team a lot as well. An amazing lead producer, or whatever he is called, on the Echos team. Loves EVE, been playing EVE since day one. Finical EVE player and he has the EVE DNA for sure. EVE Echos does a lot of cool things. Really good thing especially from a new player perspective. It’s a lot of, in biz speak, cross-pollination of ideas. We are just gaining from the corporation in good ways for sure.

OZ: Speaking of monetization, we just learned about the Expert Systems. I don’t know how much that touches on the work you do, but then again the work you do touches on everything in EVE?

Rattati: I’m intimately involved yeah. Expert systems, were recoined from a very specific user problem, and there are ways to get around that for sure. I read the Expert system thread on both forum and I don’t disagree on a lot of things. We could make the skill system much easier to understand, but there is something about navigating, I would say, these obstacles in the very beginning that have been pointed out. If you are not going to refactor the skill system these would be interesting ways to do it. We definitely don’t want to sell Skill Points, so that was basically the foundation. The design crunch was “Ok how can we help them without selling skill points?” OK we can grant temporary skills, and that’s kinda the idea we went with. Say ok, how can we allow you to fly something now taste something now, instead of waiting? Players could skill inject, but new players won’t be able to understand that, and that’s also our fault. So how to we get this to, OK can we get something cool, smart, very kinda digestible, at a low price point that says “Hey”. Just in your first session you don’t have to wait for anything, to don’t have to come back tomorrow. What if you could just fly a mining barge or a small frigate? A small frigate, a fitted frigate with just the basic necessities and say ok just go out and fight.

The idea here is how can we actually make a friend just take you out? So a friend says “OK, Come join me we can go out together” instead of the friend saying “Hey, lets see you in a week, get these skills started” then play. What if you could just drop a low coast point and play with me today. In the meanwhile you are actually training towards that at the same time. You are also actually learning a bit about what makes a fitting. Like the concept of a fitting even. You like ok here’s a bundle that lets you fly now and is also kinda a skill plan and also gives you a small, I would say, beacon of light to look up things, to train, to buy, to go study the market, because you are very unguided in the market.

So at least this is a starting point to say, Ok, this actually works together without ghosts fittings and community fittings. That was the idea. The idea was obviously passed through the CSM, and they give us feedback on it. The main feedback was obviously, don’t go too far, make it definitely new players. This shouldn’t be an alliance doctrine that’s being spun up or fly T2 battleship or a titan or super carrier. So obviously the intent is here to have it low skill point investment just to kinda get you started.

OZ: My challenge to the Expert Systems, and I point a video on this out there but you haven’t seen it so ill try to summarize, so my challenge is “If, the introduction of the Expert System kinda suggest that what is holding the retention back is people missing skills on day one or day two. That there isn’t enough to do, on day one or day two that they understand, and that is what is making them quit the game, and that is what I challenge because I think that what is keeping people out of staying in the game is, not finding a corp or not understanding the overview or not benign able to play the game because it’s not being explained to them in a way that most people understand or in way only the most dedicated understand. So to me, I didn’t think the Expert Systems is addressing the issues that’s there. Now obviously you have a different number than what I can look at, but to me its sounds like it’s addressing a problem that is not there and then on top of that. If you put somebody In a mining barge for example to the day one player it’s not going to make a difference if it’s a starter ship or a mining barge. Mining is going to be new to them, the difference isn’t gonna be how much ISK they are gonna make. The difference is that they are going to be blown up quicker and maybe leave even quicker. That’s what I understand. What do you say to that?

Rattati: I think its very, anticlimactic to join a game and say “I want to fly this ship, I can’t now and have to wait” I think it’s very different from what players expect to come into a new game, at this day in age. I think its very specific to EVE and its one of the things that makes EVE unique and interesting, but it is hard to grasp that you have to wait, because you can’t grind EXP by doing that activity. If you could, I think I would be fine, but this kind of lack of progress or sense of progression is a bit hard for new players, and this is very clear in our user testing. We have a lot of data, and definitely I don’t disagree with what you said, there are people lost because we don’t explain the game well (LOST SOUND)

(TIMESTAMP 1:00:00)

OZ: You’re muted.

Rattati: Definitely. The overview is crowded and hard to understand and that we would definitely like more players to join corporations day one for sure, but not everyone is a corporation joiner, I’m not. I would never join a corporation day one, because a lot of people want to find or build their self-confidence, because of stage fright you want to do things on your own until your ready to not be mocked for your lack of knowledge.

There is a big group of players who just simply don’t want social interactions in the first day or two, they just want to train. They are fine with losing, like it’s fine. Lose isn’t a thing that drives people away, its actually one of the things that makes you kinda stick. Dearth in the first session of your first ship does not lead to bad retention, it actually leads to the opposite. Its kinda like, ok then you get it, oh die then I go back to station I just buy another ship, ok I’m poor, but that’s fine because I can just get money somehow. That’s crafting, and you are used to it in MMO’s. So I think that’s not the problem, the problem is waiting, and to me there is also this part of like. The satisfaction when you unlock the first ship, and you think its meaningful, but then you don’t have any fittings, and you don’t know what to do next. That lack of guidance.

I think that’s what the Expert Systems was in the beginning was kinda like skill plan. You just get this skill plan, and it makes sense, it’s kinda like a community fitting, but it’s an object. That was the basic translation. The DNA of the design and I think all of these will work together. That’s my hope.

OZ: But aren’t you worried that people, that new players, will log in, and they will feel like its required because you are offering it to them, and they feel like, obviously I need to buy this because apparently I don’t have what it takes to have fun on day one. Which is absolutely not true, because I think there is a ton of things you can do on day one that are a lot of fun and especially are better for your learning curve in the long run if you don’t buy into it.

Rattati: Yeah, but I just put that into players judgement. I play War Zone and I don’t buy the battle pass even if I’m killed by the Growl. I don’t need it, I can do whatever I want, and I think there are people who will enjoy this and people who won’t, and I ultimately don’t think it harms anyone that its exists in a way it doesn’t give you any power, it doesn’t give you maybe perceived power, it doesn’t give you any pay-to-win. It doesn’t give you anything you couldn’t before because you could literally skill inject into this by PLEXing on day one if you wanted to. I think it’s more like a guiding hand if you want it.

OZ: OK, I’ll let you off the hook on that one. I have to ask a question that, at least my community knows, is coming because my most dreaded item for me is signal-25 needle jack in the game and ill tell you why. You announced that item was coming out after the success of the initial filaments in the event and then basically everyone understood it as signal 5’s are everywhere. You can get them and use them, and 15’s are a rare blueprint than the 25’s are only given out very rarely, because there are purple, they should be way more rare and more expensive than the 5’s and the 15’s. Then what happened is they were giving them out to everyone as a login rewards, not 5’s, also the 5’s, and also the 25’s. Nowadays, they are everywhere are worthless. Obviously you thought they were great and should be in the game. In the economic sense for you as an ecosystems guy doesn’t that hurt? Isn’t that like you introduce, or I don’t know you personally, the game introduced a clear way forward but then login rewards kind of killed the market for an item that should have been rare, they could have been very very cool thing and now its everywhere. Which is by the way also abundance right? Its breads compliancy and so up until then the story has been “just I lost a whole bunch of money on signal 25’s right” my question to you is, don’t they ask you before they do a login reward? Because you would tell them that’s a terrible idea, because why would you give out an item that is supposed to be rare because the signal 15’s are now, basically there is an item there that is not used, the blueprint is worth nothing, it could have been cool.

Rattati: Yes, this actually, like this hasn’t reached my, my kind of, purview. In the last, six months or so. We definitely signed off on the DLI and I may have actually signed off, I can’t remember the details, but I really wanted some of these to be manufactured. Some of them to be in the DLI, some of them to be casual for sure.

OZ: Nobody manufactures them because the 25’s are, you put them…

Rattati: The road to hell, haha, paved with good intentions. I think, that may, again, there are things to look at, on seeding for example. I wasn’t really aware of this specific instance, and I’m happy to take a look at it. I think part of putting them in the DLI was to make sure there was always an ample supply in players hands. Maybe it should be reversed. I can take a look, but it’s been a few months were no one really brought this up as an urgent thing. So this is the first, but maybe this is a lost opportunity, maybe it can be fixed for sure.

OZ: I mean no one is gonna complain about this because they like the time and having these in their pockets. I was more concerned with the fact that items, I would hope these login rewards would be passed by you.

Rattati: Oh they were.

OZ: these login rewards, the way they are structured right now. I don’t think the community is happy about them because they, speaking for myself and the people I know, 99% trash. So you have a big pile of blueprints in your hanger that you’re never going to use.

Rattati: Yeah, obviously we were in a tough place with the DLI. The veteran DLI for sure. What has value that cant be traded, but still has value? Like it’s very hard to navigate that. The concept of soul bound, doesn’t really exist. That means I can’t give, or we can’t give, anything really useful, very interesting, because it uses gets converted into cash immediately. So yes, it is a. There is a debate for sure about the value of the veteran DLI and weather actually it’s a net positive or net negative thing. There are ways to improve the players experience. The redemption queue handling, I don’t know, easy sells/ I actually don’t know, but there is a debate at the moment about the future of the veteran DLI for sure. You can spin up a thread about that if you want.

OZ: Yeah, the way its done and the improvements. You can redeem them know to the home station, that’s fantastic. Its just you got to put some stuff in there that people actually need, because the way it is right now I think most people would rather not have a login reward then another, you know, Vexor blueprint. It just filling up hangers, no one is gonna build the Vexor, I hate to break it too you but know one is building the Vexor.

Rattati: It’s a very hard, it’s almost impossible to make the actual loot valuable. So maybe we need to rethink this in some way, but there is no way to give something valuable except auto-redeemed skins. Those are the only thing we can give that we can actually say “OK we can give something valuable because we know you can’t trade in to other accounts” That’s the only thing.

OZ: Yeah, except signal 25’s those you can trade.

Rattati: Can’t we trade all the other things?

(TIME STAMP 1:10:00)

OZ: So before I would ask the mods if there are some questions in chat that were asked repeatedly or that you find particularly good, to tag me and I will ask in a second. I want to ask one last question Rattati, and that is around the management of PLEX prices. So, you know, you’re a financial analysis, or well you used to be, I used to be a financial analysis. The price of PLEX, and the supply and demand of PLEX, is economically speaking, something very interesting in game and I’m sure its something that you spend a lot of time, at least dealing with or thinking about. So PLEX has been dropping a lot, which one reason is going to be people retuning to the war and buying PLEX to skill up or to buy resources. Do you guys manage the price of PLEX, what do you do? Do you have boundaries that can’t go over, can you look me in the eye and say no?

(TIMESTAMP 1:11:28)

Rattati: That’s 100,% its literally supply and demand. We have ZERO impact on PLEX supply/demand price.

OZ: So the introduction of a PLEX sale has nothing to do with the current price of PLEX in any way?

Rattati: They are just based on a reasonable period of time that has elapsed. Kind of like a gauge of the community of when is a good timing, but there absolutely not based on trying to control the price at all. We think it just healthy, its probably healthier now, but it’s hard to say what is healthy. What is the value of ISK? What is the relative value of ISK to real world currencies? This is an almost impossible problem to say what is good and what is bad. All we can say is relative, what is a relative price, of PLEX when players are relatively happy about the game? We definitely saw that players were unhappy about the game at a certain price point.

OZ: Mhmm

Rattati: I think that’s pretty clearly because bots were driving PLEX demand up because they had more ISK supply because they could just grind their own ISK, so they were able to afford to pay over the margin, over the current margins of PLEX. So it was driving up and then kind of in this vicious cycle of them overpricing themselves and buying their own PLEX and so on and so forth. The players selling PLEX do not seem to be, uh, a big portion of them are not price sensitive at all. They will simply sell PLEX when they need cash, they don’t care about the current prices, they will just buy 20 bucks and sell it so. They aren’t price sensitive. The buyers are more, so this is all to say a kind of supply and demand cycle which has been improved a lot by anti-cheat. That’s what is driving the price of PLEX down and that actually, when I say we don’t, we do, but in a healthy way without inflation.

OZ: Because you drove down the demand because there, less bots.

Rattati: Yes, and more punished RMT’ers. Less illegal ISK in the system.

OZ: So would you say then the current PLEX prices are more reflective of what it should be?

Rattati: I think its, this is the same price that was in a good period back a few years ago. Kind of like, I don’t know, there is nothing healthy about a number. It’s just a number. A lot of real world economies is really just perception. Like what is a high price for gold? Whatever it is, is it high or low or good or bad, just depends on how people feel about it. A lot of it is emotional. This is a nice emotional place for PLEX to be which makes people comfortable and people are happy about it. It’s weird but it’s not always science.

Oz: OK, are you comfortable answering a couple questions from chat?

Rattati: Sure

Oz: Bonzi, he is one of our mods, he has collected. The state of Wormholes, regarding resource distribution, and PI are retuning questions. Also, that CCP is happy with how the ESS numbers turned out. Let’s start with the easy question are you happy with the way the ESS number turned out.

Rattati: We are happy with the current ISK rates, or basically what players are making from bounties, yes. Point two we are very happy about the growth of reserve bank deposits, when we release them to the public.

OZ: Is it, do you know yet how you’re going to release the keys? Is there something about that?

Rattati: uh, specific details I can’t share I know. But they will be distributed in content.

(TIMESTAMP 1:16:00)

OZ: In content, so not through the PLEX or store or cash?

Rattati: Such a like, I would say “COME ON” but, wow. Content, content yes.

OZ: OK, I mean.

Rattati: I know

OZ: The thing is there is no better thing you can for the, I guess, for the community or for the sentiment in the community then saying exactly what you just did, right. So, I think I, you know, it’s up to me to ask that question and for you to answer that.

Rattati: Yeah, I just remember the first Reddit thread about reserve banks. And I was like, “sigh, ahh, fuck” no we are never gonna sell these keys for PLEX, never. OK its in content.

Oz: That’s very good, so earlier the other part of that question was the state of wormholes regarding resource distribution.

Rattati: Yep, big part of next phase, in that sense.

OZ: OK, and PI well PI is interesting right because PI is something that had the prices crash. In one reason is less structure in space, one reason is I guess more people doing PI because the other ISK making opportunities aren’t as lucrative anymore. State of PI? Do you have, its part of the ecosystem do you have a opinion on it?

Rattati: first of all it could be so much more, and I have big fantasies about what PI could be. As a, I’m a fairly big 4x player, and I think there are things we could do for PI that, like, it just has potential. PI is definitely some of the PI resources are gonna have an increased demand, soon.

OZ: OK

Rattati: So higher value for sure.

OZ: Oh you can’t, yes ok, that’s a good one, that’s a good one to drop here. Haha, that’s gonna drive up prices, you can watch the prices go up hahaha.

Rattati: If you speculate, you speculate, I take no responsibility.

OZ: I probably have half a trillion in PI good under my control, so that’s all good. I think we are gonna let you go. Unless there are any questions I missed. Anyone, last question for Rattati here? Hypernet? Actually that is a good ending question Rattati. You said earlier something about, I don’t remember the exact quote, but you said gambling was identified as a problem and removed. I mean you reintroduced state funded or state run gambling via the Hypernet, something that I have been, I’ve been uh, fighting against since it got introduced because I don’t really like the idea of gambling in the game the way the Hypernet was introduced. How does that fit together, how do you say ok we removed gambling, but then we introduced it as kind of state run thing, you know what I mean? You are just taking advantage of mathematically challenged people, that’s what you are doing right?

Rattati: Its raffles and um, they are condoned, everywhere. So it’s not literally gambling. It is a numbers game for sure. A game of chance. Actually I can’t speak much to it, it was implemented months before I, literally right before I joined EVE, and I know that we went through like strict legal review, and it’s fine. Like, there’s no, it’s not wrong.

OZ: I don’t mean legally, you know, morally.

Rattati: Yeah, I honestly just don’t have a strong opinion on it. Its something that, I think, again with good intentions. I obviously we had semi-legal raffles going on in EVE that were then turned off. Like I don’t know the history about that stuff. I think it was meant to be a kind of good-natured, fun, activity to. I remember there were things, a big reason for this now that I’m kinda thinking about this was to kinda get value for things that had no value.

OZ: Mhmmm

Rattati: So super rare things you couldn’t just put on the market. I think for that, I think its, I guess fine. I like really don’t have a problem with it, but I’m very ambivalent towards the whole thing. Gambling to me is this, kinda of non-guaranteed loot box rolling. Like when you have a hidden percent chance and there is no guarantee. So, at least for loot boxes that. That I don’t hate as much is the other ones is kinda like at least if its 1 in 100 you get if you buy 100 you will get the thing, like a guaranteed drop. But none of that is coming to EVE in anyway or form anyways. So it doesn’t really matter what I think.

OZ: Unfortunately it came with a lot of scamming and spamming, but that’s, you know.

Rattati: Yeah I think its unfortunate but it, again, it doesn’t bubble enough up to cause enough noise for anyone to really react negatively or positively. Its kinda working, its still has a lot of activity. A lot of people interact with it. So the assumption is, it as good as anything else in the game. Some people are having fun with it, it’s a sandbox. If you don’t, you don’t really ever need to open it even. I think that’s what it is. Its gameplay for some and a lot of people enjoy it a lot. So I’m happy to let them keep doing it if they enjoy it

OZ: I guess you have the numbers to prove it.

Rattati: Yep, there is a lot of turn over for sure. You can see in the MER there is a lot of ISK sink involved in that. I would like to end on like, I have been going though, we have a Friday fun session run by CCP Burger. Where we go through all kinds of interesting things at the company and something that we have, is a corporation, a small corporation run by CCP players. They were just walking through their Null Sec mining industry operation. I think here is something that, it’s a big thing to tackle, but that something that I’m very interested in. In trying to improve, which is how do we introduce new players into industry? What they are walking into is basically an impossible task. Its PvP with all stacked against you from every single direction. You basically have, other people have fully researched blueprints, you have people with very optimized pipelines, logistics, like there no way you can win in migraines against anyone.

So how do we make this lucrative? That’s just a question for you guys to ponder. What can we do to allow new players to get into this and still make a living from it, without fighting against the big sharks in the industry. There is no artisan café, there is nothing you can do to be different. It’s all the same goods in the sense. Only price is king here, there is no customer service. There is nothing you can offer. So pose that question to you guys. What can we do for new players in industry? That’s, you don’t have a chance. That’s my feeling that I’m feeling right now.

OZ: You want an answer from chat?

Rattati: Sure, shoot

OZ: Get rid of T2 BPO’s

Rattati: That’s one, but they are not competing in the T2 market in the first week of their existence, but good point, but not a key point.

OZ: Be sure that whatever you grant to new players will be used by the titans they have no chance against.” “You have to find the items that work.” So in null I tend to agree with you, I’m actually a very experienced trader but in industry I only started this year Rattati. I was immediately able to make a profit by finding the right niches and the right items. With a lot of market knowledge obviously. That helps. So I think giving them a platform to maybe learn about the markets and the makeup of different items and structure, I think would be a good starting point. There is basically very few resources out there that will easily explain to you which type of items go into what type of final good or finished good or medium tier 1 or P1 or P2 intermediate product. That is something that I think is missing. That is something that I would say would help a lot of players on their way there.

Rattati: Yeah, one thing that kind of struck me was that. Many MMOs, a lot of the survival games at least, with crafting elements with blueprints etc. They allow you to make something for yourself, and it’s useful to you and its almost never useful for you to manufacture for yourself. Like its kind of better for you to go out to make money and buy things off the market. Which is kinda of counterintuitive and I think there is also this, complexity of the fitting itself. Our CCP guide or host actually explained how he, how they go about creating doctrine orders. That’s a lot of Google Docs and a lot of Excel sheets and a lot of things where you actually have to keep track of everything.

OZ: Absolutely!

Rattati: Creating corporation hangers to make everyone dump into the same hanger, so you can keep track of all the mineral, etc. This is all very abstract, very difficult for a new player to get into. Just the concept of “I’m gonna build my own rifter with my own weapons with my own ammo” that seems to be a reasonable thing to do for a new player once he gets into industry, but its very very difficult. Maybe as an intermediate to go dabble in industry but as a new player who expects this to be a game about crafting it is something that, I would love to take a step to try to improve.

OZ: So, I would say something like, if you’re talking about maybe one solution maybe diminishing returns for people who produce a lot. That would allow, on certain products, would allow people to get into very cheap initial product and maybe make a profit because everyone else is not producing it any more because of demising returns. I don’t think that would be good for the sandbox aspect of the game, because we are playing Ultra-Capitalism here. This is not going to be, this is unrealistic or this is unrealistic hand holding for new players that is hurting the sandbox mentality. I think. That would be an idea.

Rattati: Sure, that’s one way.

OZ: Diminishing returns is always, diminishing returns is always the answer to any question, haha. Or possible answer.

Rattati: You won’t say tariffs though. Taxes. That’s basically just think about every activity is PvP and think whether its fair or now. I think this is one of the unfair places to start is, day one, I’m saying day one. Not day 39 or 300

(TIMESTAMP 1:30:00)

OZ: Day one you shouldn’t be doing industry in Null is my answer. What are you doing you know? Industry is something that has to, that should be really only really profitable at scale because that’s how it is in the real world you know. That’s realistic.

Rattati: So, fun never plays a part of it?

OZ: Well fun, I think a lot of people produce at a loss in EVE, So many people produce at a loss because they have fun producing stuff. I love them because I get very rich off them, but that’s what happens. I think the people who are very profitable in industry are the 20% not the 80%. So I don’t think industry for the sake of making a huge profit is a
month one activity. To be fair it’s not in most MMOs right? In other MMOs if you’re going to, I mean WOW is the elephant in the room. In WOW, you’re going to start producing for yourself just like you might be producing your own rifter, but your not gonna be profitable in any profession until a few years down the way.

Rattati: That’s true

OZ: But we digressed.

Rattati: Yep

OZ: Hey Rattati, thank you so much for coming along hopefully we can do this again sometime. It was a ton of fun. I think we learned a lot. I think it was very very nice speaking to you, and thank you so much for taking out the time of your evening I know it’s an extension of work for you. It’s fun for us an extension of work for you. I highly highly appreciate that man.

Rattati. I really like the community interaction, I miss it. I did more for DUST, but I’m trying to get back into the habit. I really enjoy this and there is a lot of interesting things that can come out of both the chat, both the followup, people actually watch the stream then ping me. it’s all very important to just keep this conversation going, and I hope I was vague enough but also still, I would say, I hope you see some light at the end of the tunnel. I see it in the reserve banks. Just you wait.

OZ: A perfect way, maybe, if you and people reach out to voice their opinion based on the chat we had today. What should that do? Should they tweet at you? Should they reach out to the community team? What the best way to give feedback?

Rattati: So my favorite is, because I check the forms regularly is it see a good well constructed post. If you name-drop me it’s likelier that I see it, but that’s one of the ways probably a good way is to start a thread then tweet it at me, then the community team they pass all kinds of things, I get a regular bundle, and we have a weekly community feedback. I think these are our normal ways to get in touch.

OZ: Alright, cool. I will be doing that. You will have another request for an interview in the future from me in your inbox.

Rattati: See you next quadrant!

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Comments

  • Rammel Kas

    Thank you kindly for this. The streamer himself set his quality standards high which unfortunately means people with lower bandwidth can’t access it at all.

    March 6, 2021 at 7:50 AM
    • Rhivre Rammel Kas

      I always prefer a transcript as well as its easier to go through and find specific parts. Having done a couple myself it is a lot of work to do.

      March 6, 2021 at 1:55 PM