This time the net is cast pretty wide with a whole range of questions:
In general, I have a good feeling about the future vision for EVE Online. In contrast to the last ten years, there seems to be a long-term plan on how to move ahead. CCP is becoming more mature in this way.With the Rubicon expansion being announced and the SOMER Blink scandals (or non-scandals depending on your point of view) that have erupted on the community at the same time, it truly feels like an age of EVE has passed and a new one is dawning.But which direction is it going? This blog banter can be about several different topics:- where do you think EVE is going? Is it a good or bad vision ahead?- if you were EVE's new Executive Producer, where would you take the game?- What comes (or should come) after Rubicon in terms of the mechanics and ship balancing we've seen? (CSM8 not allowed to answer this one!)- Is there anything in EVE's ten year past that should be resurrected? Or buried and forgotten?- What is the future of the community? What should or should not change?
In other ways the company still retains it's adolescent behaviour as exemplified by the SOMERBlink PR disaster (links not necessary except if you lived under a rock), the latest episode of the ongoing Mintchip soap-opera or the messy handling of the TOS change, but in terms of game development things look promising as far as I am concerned.
Whichever way CCP wants to take the game, however, one of the most pressing issues that they will have to address in the future is how to expand their playerbase without changing the special nature of EVE Online lest they lose what makes their game unique in a world where ever more MMOs are appearing on the scene.
Others have written on the subject already, but I feel like it deserves to be mentioned again for emphasis: There is an inflation of accounts while the real growth of the playerbase appears to be a lot less significant.
Of course I do not have the numbers, but everything I hear and read indicates that this is the case. While on the bottom line, CCP keeps making more money, it also means that they make this money off of fewer people than they could and that this trend is ongoing. Most of those people exist at the high-end of the spectrum - long term players with lots of ISK and experience.
While player retention at this stage is generally good, those players are also the ones most likely to leave the game for longer periods of time due to burnout or real-life matters. An old bittervet who has seen it all will leave and take a lot more convincing to return than someone who tried the game a few months ago and might be reeled back in by some shiny new feature. In the case of an old player leaving, we are looking at anything up from two accounts that might be lost indefinitely.
New players will probably keep coming to the game in numbers for as long as the marketing department does it's work, but there is a lot of turnover there. I dare to speculate that not so many take the step from short-term interest to long term "brand loyalty".
I have the feeling that there might be a real danger that the departure of long-term multi-account players will eventually exceed the potential of new players to keep the game afloat with their coming and going.
To address this, I would propose an actual expansion of the possibilities in game.
EVE is already great in the way how it offers many ways to play the game. If one gets bored or burned out of one way, one can go down a different path. This is the aspect which should be expanded further.
As a central rule for this expansion drive I would propose a modified version of Malcanis Law which states:
"Whenever a mechanics change is proposed on behalf of 'new players', that change is always to the overwhelming advantage of richer, older players."My proposed counter to this would be:
"Whatever measure that is introduced to keep the game fresh and exciting for the bittervets must also attract and retain new players"There are lots of possibilities to fulfil that statement: Make PVE something else than a repetitive quasi-afk activity that needs actual attention and interaction (How about finally fixing/reworking those COSMOS mission arcs or introducing more Incursion-style PVE?). Change sovereignty mechanics to be less of a mass-fleet grind into something deserving more intelligent maneuvering. (Lots of bloggers have offered opinions and advice on that subject over time.) Redesign the crafting system to make it more attractive and less buggy. Finally redesign the corporation management to make it look less like the badly designed interface for an unnecessarily complex machine. Open up new possibilities for in-game "professions" (Bounty-hunting and mercenary marketplace are still dead in the water, for example)
What has to be central for any of this to work - and not become a fulfilment of Malcanis' Law instead - are possibilities for newer players and older ones alike to have fun and engage with eachother without introducing another mechanic that can be beaten by throwing excessive numbers at it whether that be ISK or amounts of players.
Right now, there are two aspects of EVE which more or less fulfil that criterion: Faction Warfare and Wormhole Space. In the former, there is clearly content which can be played by people in frigates and rather low skills. Numbers work to some extent, but by no means are they as effective or as necessary as in nullsec sovereignty. Wormhole Space has a bit of a higher entry threshold, but it also has a very effective built-in numbers cap through mass limits and the inability to use cynosural fields. Also in Wormhole Space there is a clear "level progression" that helps players to find the place that suits them best while taking away none of the sandbox aspect.
What EVE needs is more avenues to play the game in ways similar to that.
While I am not pleading for CCP to ignore and neglect the big players of nullsec, I would like to point out, that those player empires are pretty self-sufficient in creating content for themselves. They even have their own methods to attract and retain new players.
The assignment rather is, to engage and retain the ones who are not motivated in such a way. That applies whether they are new players without direction or old players who cringe at the thought of yet another operation to take down sov structures or run the same PVE site for the 1000th time.
I will not take the time here to write down every proposal I would be able to come up with for such mechanics, this post is long enough already. I have written down a few in the past, though. Whatever the measures or mechanics introduced, if they try their best to fulfil my rule above while not fulfilling Malcanis' Law, then the path into the future should be a promising one I would dare to say.
As a last thought, about what I would like to see revived from the past, I would say things like the Arek' Jalaan project. That was probably the most inspiring thing I have ever seen emerge from this game. The potential and it's realisation was just wonderful, and it was a sad thing when it was just left to die a quiet death. This mixture of in-game lore, metagame, player interaction and guiding influence from developers was a wonderful synergy that showcased how amazing the things are that can come out of this game.