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.


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