28 June 2011

Why so Serious?

  Noldevin made a nice post right here on this blog the other day and I just finished listening to the Fly Reckless community shoutout Pod Cast  in which they make some interesting points but also miss on a few (at least in my opinion).  There has also been a ton of talk in chat channels, on the #tweetfleet , as well as the general EvE blogosphere about what is going on.  I think there are many people who are missing some of the reasons for this public outcry for two main reasons and countless smaller ones:

  1. They are caught up in the anger of others and/or themselves and aren't seeing clearly, or even considering why they may be so angry.
  2. The general issues aren't affecting their game play so they just see it all as a stupid thing to be upset about.
  I would like to talk about some of the reasons I think this past week or so has been so insane in EvE.  I believe there are many reasons and some of them are actually old at this point but they created a base for the new anger to build on and "overflow the banks."

Why all the secrecy?
  I understand that CCP is a company and as such they have some things they don't want to flat out tell their rivals via a forum post.  On the flip side of that coin; there has to be some detail they can share with the player base about upcoming changes or just general ideas that may be kicking around in the office.  This seems especially true as the date for a new feature gets closer where the time frame for a rival to use that information is shrinking.  There is also the issue of the CSM being held to such tight NDA standards while supposedly being the voice of the players.  I think it would go a long way for everyone if the CSM was allowed to pick one thing (by vote) every so often that would be exempt from the NDA, even if CCP forced some things out of contention for this.
  There is a general feeling in the older EvE player base that CCP has basically stopped talking to us.  This is a company who has grown a lot and as a result their communications with their customers have gone from personal and often direct to being handed out in PR crafted press releases and dev blogs.  A lot of people understand this but that doesn't mean it hasn't upset them a bit, even hurt their feelings on some level.  This issue was blown to astronomic proportions during monoclegate when CCP could have really cut down some of the fire early but reacted more as a slow moving giant than the plucky little company many of us used to love.  That leads directly into the next issue:

Where's the love?
  This has been brought up by several on the tweetfleet and in other places and I don't want to exaggerate the truth because some of it is just nostalgia.  Still, there was a time when the actions CCP took were directed more by the emergent game play happening in the sandbox than by game play styles they wanted to push down on the players.  I have no idea when this changed but for me the last time we saw this was the introduction of the heavy interdictor based on the play style in 0.0 space.
  Obviously CCP introduced a lot of their own ideas in that time as well, but it was widely appreciated when something was added that was directly drawn from what we were doing as players.  There was a sense that our actions really did matter in  shaping the future of EvE on an even grander scale than taking space and destroying alliances.  In recent expansions CCP has largely done the opposite while claiming that this is not true.  A part of this is the recent treatment of 0.0 space which has not been well accepted by a large portion of pilots.

0.0 is the lifeblood of EvE...
  Now; that is very likely an overstatement but it's also important to note that most of the PR push for EvE (prior to Incarna) has basically been a re-telling of player generated content that is happening out in 0.0.  They love to brag about giant fleet fights, huge coalitions going to war, and players truly making the sandbox their own in lawless space.  However the actions of CCP over the past few expansions have clearly shown that they are more worried about getting new players to swarm into hisec than keeping the most energetic part of EvE alive.  Patches have changed the way 0.0 anomalies work several times now, added costs to living in 0.0 on multiple occasions, and have generally been geared at making it less hospitable to live anywhere but hisec.
  The addition of Incursions which basically boil down to 0.0 gains in the safety of hisec are another example of this.  Ignoring the fact that EvE players are a special breed and many have died thanks to these incursions, it is pretty clear they are meant to be a lure out of null-sec for borderline players.
  Many veterans are feeling a cold shoulder from CCP these days as they are actively courting new players with the fruits of veteran labor (a rich game universe) while seemingly not caring if those veterans stick around at all.

Do you think we are stupid?
  I understand the tricks of business including the price anchor theory are aimed at making money but to expect to sale virtual goods for more than the real world counterpart is just insane.  Many people were upset about this and took to the forums to ask why they thought we were so dumb as to buy a shirt for $20 that could be destroyed by pixel based lazors.  This hasn't really upset me that much as I don't have the slightest interest in playing dress up with my characters in EvE, I have the Sims if I want to do that.  I looked at that price and said "meh, that's an awful lot, doubt they'll sale many of those widgets."  However this is one of the issues that started to push all the recent problems between CCP and it's customers towards an explosion.  

Silence is not golden
  The "rabble, rabble, rabble" for this started slowly and pretty softly but when the internal newsletter was leaked it got a lot of people thinking.  The key points of contest in the news letter were the possibility of selling advancement in EvE for cash.  I don't think *most* of us actually thought the news letter was policy but it was clearly very one sided which lead a lot of us to believe it may be indicative of a policy shift taking place.  The refusal to tell us, in plain english, whether this was true or not is actually what set off the powder keg in my eyes.
  I think it would have been better if CCP had just said "yes, we like the idea of selling you stupid shit for ridiculous prices, and some of that is going to be unicorn ammo!" The silence was taken by many as yes, but it was also taken as a serious slap of disrespect by a pretty big group of players.  Then, CCP did the unthinkable, they threw CCP Zulu at us without any answers and told us that was all we were getting.  It was too late, by the time Hilmar's internal mail was leaked it was just more fuel on a fire that had grown largely out of control.  By that point spin wasn't going to work and even CCP taking the step of bringing the CSM to Iceland didn't appease a lot of players.  Many of us have decided to see how that meeting turns out but unless the whole CSM gives us a giant thumbs up I don't think this will be over.


26 June 2011

Words in Anger

So it appears Zulu has finally felt the pressure of our action and not our words, just as they wanted to. In the latest Dev Blog Zulu comes to grips with reality and realizes that we the EVE community will not stand for such blatant bullshit. He claims his rather unfavored post was a result of heat of the moment. I almost forgive him, here's why: While what transpired this weekend was unacceptable to us players, many CCP employees recieved insults, harsh treatment, and hatred that was undeserved. It seems many CCPers are friends, so it is only natural for them to feel anger or frustration in defense of their comrades. I would probably have done the same to be completely honest, though that does not make it any more acceptable. Please remember, I DID say almost.

Is the CSM meeting just a PR stunt? Most likely, but since the CSM answers to the community using it as a stunt would backfire tremendously and just further prove that they are ignored. Hopefully they take what the CSM brings them to heart, for once. Because they are pretty much in the exact same position as this guy...

You guys (and gals), the EVE community, have done an excellent job in showing that our wallets dictate their business, and not the other way around. It is important that we continue to do so, lest CCP make another attempt at emptying them.

That being said, please make sure to contact the CSM and make it extra clear that we will accept no less than a guarantee that there will never be pay to win items. Ignoring our wishes, for CCP, would be like our friend in the picture digging another foot forward.


24 June 2011

Protesting In Jita Today

click to en-gigantasize

Wow, What a week!

  In the understatement of the century, this is a big week in EvE.  Walking in stations (or more accurately, walking around a room trying to figure out why you are there like a frat brother on Monday morning) was already slated to cause some "discussion" among the EvE community.  Then, in a comedy of errors, the situation has escalated beyond anything that could have been imagined.  For the sake of brevity I will just hit some of the high notes for you:

This CCP internal memo was leaked, it's "Interesting"

This was confirmed as real by CCP Pann

CCP released some news about 3rd party apps that upset about everyone

Amazing unrealistic prices on the new store (for items no one wants anyway) have left many questions in the commnunity

Incarna has been *reported* to cause graphics cards to overheat, even acceptably high quality cards **Note that this did happen to me on a formerly stable system with no overclocking**

Helicity Boson has been banned -- although I am a bit happy to see his tears as the organizer of Hulkageddon

CCP Pann is the first to come out of hiding

Some of EvE's major community contributors are up and quitting:  Here and Here and others but I didn't feel like looking everything up.

  As you can see, there is A LOT to talk about here.  I don't think I can cover all of this and I don't even know how much I care to.  Instead I want to talk about why there are so many problems with the changes and why so many people are upset, at least in my opinion.

  The first and most obvious problem was that there was some misdirection leading up to this launch which I can only assume was meant to keep the "bitter vets" on a low key as CCP was actively courting new types of players into New Eden.  I'm not sure what CCP thought would happen when everyone realized they had been lead down an alternate path, but I think the reaction was more venomous than they expected.  This lead to CCP making the decision to circle the wagons and try to wait out the storm by not really making any public reaction.  They probably couldn't have made a worse decision short of just posting on the forum HTFU and locking it down.  The player base worked themselves into a fury as only EvE players can do, and the fire was far too hot to put out by the time CCP broke out the water buckets.

  The second major issue I see is that EvE is a very (very!) complex game and even casual players have put a lot of thought and effort into being a part of it.  No matter the intended direction CCP has allowed a feeling to creep into the community that they want to make this game "easy" now; so that they can get new people to play.  Their actions leading up to this release have all been geared at getting players back into high security space: from the nerfing of null sec anomalies to the incursions that basically serve as hisec anomalies.  CCP has seemingly made a point of stomping out emergent gameplay in the past few months.  EvE is a game that is about as boring as watching paint dry when played by the original CCP rules, so you can imagine the backlash to losing the "fun" things to do in the game. Now, I don't know if this was CCP's intent at all, but they allowed that feeling to grow from the initial seed into a terrifying force in the community without ever stepping in to clarify.

  Another big issue was the claim that was stated over and over again: Incarna was something that the EvE player base REALLY wanted.  In truth most of us understood that it was necessary for the growth of the game but I don't think many of us actually cared whether or not we ever got it.  In fact I believe most current EvE players would have chosen a single new ship for each race over being able to see our bodies in the game.  When you first start in EvE it takes about a week to get used to the idea of a spaceship avatar, and then it's over, you never care about not having an avatar again.  In my opinion if CCP had been honest and told us that they had to do this to keep the game relevant or risk us all loosing it forever: everyone would have been happy to help, most would have even been nice about it.  Instead they chose to try revisionist history and tell us that this is something we always wanted.

  At this point the overall fire has reached a pretty serious point and there have been a lot of mistakes from both the players and CCP.  I'm not sure where this is headed but I do know I've already turned off my station graphics so that I can get back to playing EvE.  For me, Incarna is a non-issue until they take away the option to leave the station off.  I'm not going to quit EvE, even though I did consider it for a moment, but I'm also not even going to open the new store again because I really don't care about my avatar having a monocle that could buy me a new carrier.


20 June 2011

Piling on CCP

  First off, don't forget to set long skills training for the upcoming Incarna release.  CCP has made incredible strides in streamlining patch day since I first started playing but I think we can all expect some growing pains when adding a whole new technology to the game.

  Many people have been jumping on CCP lately, but I plan to reserve my judgement for Incarna, at least for a while.  While it isn't something that is very important to me I understand the reason it is necessary within EvE.  New players look at this game with a reference and fear that nothing else on the market can match.  Getting those new players to stick around is going to take something that they can sink their teeth into, and considering the time it takes to even get a ship worthy of PvP that something is going to be Incarna.  I'm sure there will be players who never un-dock thanks to the new feature, but there are already a lot of those thanks to an odd pleasure they get from being in Jita.  So even though I'm not all that excited about the new feature I think it will end up being good for the game: *as long as* CCP continues to care about ships in space and doesn't focus entirely on a feature that is aimed at WOW players.

  I do want to give CCP some recognition for handling the lulz DDOS attack pretty well.  They seemed to put in a lot of honest effort and did a pretty good job of updating the player base.  I think everyone understands that there were some "op-sec" concerns with giving out details too early and the updates we got were just fine in my opinion.

  I'd also like to thank CCP for the much improved alliance tournament coverage.  Although we weren't able to watch the first rounds, and I missed much of last weekends rounds with RL, what I did catch was very well done.  It was a lot more exciting than the US Open.
--Congrats to Hydra Reloaded--


14 June 2011

Alliance Tournament and Random Updates

  Unfortunately (or fortunately depending on your point of view) I haven't been able to log into EvE very much because of the beautiful weather here in NC, USA.  I've read a bit about the Alliance Tournament but haven't been able to catch any of the matches.  What I've read has made this sound like a pretty good tournament though; although some teams are obviously playing things close to the vest (PL for certain).  I'm looking forward to the matches hitting YouTube a bit down the line.  I found it very nice of CCP to have a series of "Pick the Winner" contests during the tournament @ http://www.eveonline.com/ingameboard.asp?a=topic&threadID=1525902

  I was pleasantly surprised on catching up with the news today that CCP will be implementing an option on Captain's Quarters, at least for a period:  http://www.eveonline.com/devblog.asp?a=blog&bid=922  This is great for me because I have an older computer that I like to play EvE on so that I can have separate controls in some situations.  I'm going to update/replace that computer but the longer I can put it off, the better it will make the issue for a lazy bum like me.

  I've gotten out of the loop in 0.0 politics pretty quickly in the short time I've been away, especially because things have been moving very quickly for certain segments of the 0.0 population.  Delve is an interesting hotbed of activity and a very convoluted political structure which includes old blues, new blues, sometimes blues, and just about every kind of political relationship in EvE.  I'm not really sure what is going to happen there because there are a lot of old and new "big players" with at least some presence or stake in that area.
  The "fall" of the NC is still ongoing although the news now focuses more on those leaving and the actions of those who have already left.  I'm interested to see where the DRF make their next move and if they are concerned at all with the growth of old enemies in the south.

 I have managed to get in on a few kills with one of our random wardecs as well as some other action despite my short time playing.  We are pulling out of the current wars because we have a series of major changes coming down the pipe and we need to be free to make those steps without other concerns.