BlogBanter 52 – Over the hills and far away

Welcome to the continuing monthly EVE Blog Banters and our 52nd edition! For more details about what the blog banters are visit the Blog Banter page.

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Go to the always useful EVE-Offline.net (http://eve-offline.net/?server=tranquility) and take a look at the All Time (weekly average) graph for concurrent accounts logged in.

Eve subs history Plateau
Eve subs history
For the past four and a half years, the graph has hovered around that 30,000 mark; it is, for all intents and purposes, a plateau. But everything must come to an end sooner or later and that is what this blog banter is about.
 
What’s on the other side of that plateau? 
 
Is there any path for CCP to follow to raise those numbers upwards for a sustained period, or is EVE going to enter a decline to lower logged in numbers from this point? How soon will we see an end to this plateau? Months? Years? Or will you argue that ‘never’ is a possibility? Or you can look at the root causes of the plateau and tackle the question if it could have been avoided or shortened if CCP had taken different actions in the past.
My response :

The past few years Eve has had an equilibrium between people leaving and people new and/or returning to the game. Hence the ‘plateau’ mentioned above. Probably somewhere in the future this plateau will start to slope down. When this is going to happen is anyone’s guess.

People might leave for the next  Big SF Game. The only thing that could be considered an Eve killer on the horizon at the moment is Star Citizen, we’ll have to see about that. Maybe some other MMO or SF game will come along and steal it’s players ! But people can play multiple games, so I seriously doubt it.

Probably the only thing that can kill Eve is Eve itself. The game has been getting a bit stale lately. The last few expansions didn’t really add much to the game, it did make it better with bugfixes and all though. There has to come a point where more people leave (or cancel their second and third account, big thing in Eve) then there are coming in. I don’t know how long CCP can get away with these minimalist ‘expansions’  before the players are really starting to get bored.

And once that happens there will be a tipping point where Eve gets a serious overhaul and Bob from Marketing decides a new, bigger playersbase that wants to spent cash in a cash shop is worth more than the current playersbase. And that’s where free to play etc.comes in.

Let’s hope it’ll take a while before we get there ;).

Other participants at Kirith’s Inner Sanctum.

Blogbanter #51 Courage

Welcome to the continuing monthly EVE Blog Banters and our 51st edition! For more details about what the blog banters are visit the Blog Banter page.
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EVE Online can be a game of heart-pounding, palm-sweating, adrenaline-fuelled ecstasy or agony. Sometimes over the years those reactions dim and what was once a panic inducing situation becomes commonplace routine. For some, the shakes never go away.

From Druur Monakh (Twitter: @DruurMonakh) we get the topic of this banter: what was your most nail-biting experience in EVE Online so far? It could be PvP in a 1v1 or 1000v1000, your first fight or your latest one, a scam so close to being uncovered too soon, a trap almost sprung on an unsuspecting victim or the roles reversed and you desperately try to escape.

After all these years it is kind of hard to single out a single experience. In general though I am in the ‘shakes never go away’ camp. I did a lot more pvp when Factional Warfare first started out and when I got back into it a few times after that. Somehow the magic that was in those first few months, the atmosphere, the comradely never returned. We roamed around in decent sized fleets and had quite a few nail biters, my best time in the game PVP wise by far. The taking down of a Bhaalgorn, which was a big deal back then was quite exciting. Also one of my better blog posts, if I may say so myself. And I can handle myself in a fleet. Once solo though I get so nervous, I forget to turn on my armor reppers. Overheating ? Might as well never have trained it… And so forth.

confidence

By some sort of miracle I have never been caught in our wormhole doing sites. Sometimes I am really on the edge of my seat, pressing the scanner every couple of seconds and feeling the pressure of the unknown that might be lurking out there. Other times I get very relaxed and forget about the scanner and just pretend it’s a level 4 mission in hisec. Which is not what I should be doing, but hey it happens Winking smile.

Once something does pop up on the scanner though, usually probes, but if I remember well, I have seen a Proteus, Loki and a Pilgrim on scan, the feeling of panic and or shock I have never experienced in any other game. I usually just scramble to my tower and hide. It’s really weird to be worried about my character and my 40mil isk drake. Someone should do a psychological study about that !

May you always be courageous
Stand upright and be strong
May you stay forever young

– Bob Dylan

Other participants can be found at The Shakes

BB #50–Where are you going

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?

First of all, let’s stop endorsing Eve gambling sites and let the community itself decide what sites and/or services they like. The PR department has too much power, let them leave the game alone.

Having said that, let’s focus on the game. One of the big problems I see with Eve is that there are a few separate games going. There is the 0.0 power blocks / politics game, and there is highsec PVE / industry, wormhole exploration and PVP (including Factional Warfare) in losec. Somehow these should be more united. Maybe make it easier for smaller entities to enter 0.0, make losec more worthwhile to go there, and give pirates something to shoot at. Problems is, I don’t really see the answer. But that is where I would like to take the game. This is about as vague as CCP approach though.

We got the very vague speech on where we’re going from the senior producer a few times now, about more player build things and going where no one has gone before, but I am not quite sure she even knows what that means. The player constructed POCOs are apparently a first step in this direction… I’ll take a  ‘wait and we’ll see’ approach there.

The community is fine, though the time where blogs were king and we initially had the blogpack going was fun. Every pilot and their dog had a blog, and it felt like a happy family of bloggers. Fun times ! But that won’t come back. #tweetfleet on twitter has the same sort of feeling to it, so that’s nice. Times change Winking smile.

The other participants can be found at BB#50 – Changes

Blog Banter Page

BB #49 Ballad Of A Rich Man

Welcome to the continuing monthly EVE Blog Banters and our 49th edition! For more details about what the blog banters are visit the Blog Banter page.

What is “rich” in EVE? Is it simply having more ISK than most everyone else, is it measured in raw numbers of some other ethereal quality? Can you actually be poor? Have you ever lost nearly everything and had to claw your way back? If you are rich, how do you know and how did you get rich?

There are two types of players, those who see Isk as a means to get to their goal, and those that see Isk as the ultimate goal in game. They play to see their wallet / assets grow, the other group uses said Isk to buy ships and blow them up.

Ok it’s probably not that black and white, but most players would probably fit on one of these two groups. Rich for me in Eve is when you can easily afford the equipment you would like to buy and can replace all your gear without breaking your own bank.

Bitter old vet swimming in Isk

If you have been playing for quite a while, ISK starts piling up. So do all the assets to be honest. I mainly kill sleepers and do PI in our wormhole to get my income these days. Before that I ran missions, and made a bit of isk on the side, inventing T2 drones and various modules. Never on a large scale though. Think the largest run of drones I made was about 100. There are people out there who have several production / invention alts and produce 1000. So those people will be richer than I am.

However it’s still gratifying to see your stuff being sold, and see your wallet grow, even after all these years. When I started out back in 2005, everybody was pretty much poor, compared to today’s standard. People had to save for a battleship, think I had to run endless Level 3 missions to finally be able to afford a raven and so on. Never lost it all though, I might have lost a mission ship once and had to drop down a level in order to replace it, but that’s about it.

Reading the various participants entries it seems Isk and being rich is very relative in Eve. And that’s probably the only conclusion you can make from this blog banter Winking smile.

BB #48–Eve Lore

Welcome to the continuing monthly EVE Blog Banters and our 48th edition! For more details about what the blog banters are visit the Blog Banter page.
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This month’s topic is a request from CCP Sisyphus who wants to know how important is Lore in EVE Online?

“How important is “fluff” in Eve online? Would eve online be the same if it were purely numbers and mechanics, or are the fictional elements important to the enjoyment of the game? Would a pure text, no reference to sci-fi or fancy names still be an engaging game? Should CCP put more or less emphasis on immersion?”

Lore puts the RP in MMORPGs ! So it’s extremely important for a ‘role playing’ game. I do feel however that most games that call themselves MMORPG are more massive online games, than RPGs to be honest. I feel that the lore is the framework for the game, and that the gameplay should somehow fit within.

Having said that however, another thought pops up in my head that says otherwise. How often have you played a game, or even an MMO where you didn’t give a rat’s ass about the backstory. Rift, Everquest 2 and Tera to name a few I have played in the past, and I had no clue about the backstory. So I am contradicting myself here ! On the other hand, I still play WoW (yes really) and I even got a shelf full of Warcraft books, and I know a bit about Eve’s backstory as well and these are the 2 games that seem to stick with me throughout the years. So maybe it does matter after all. You seem to get more involved and more of a ‘what’s going to happen next’ kind of feeling. Especially now with Wow and the upcoming 5.4 raid where the leader of the Horde will be killed and everybody is anxious to know who will be the next to lead the Horde.

Sansha Invasion

Should CCP put more emphasis on immersion ? I think they’re doing a good job with the live events (that I always manage to miss it seems), and there should be more of those I think. It does move the overall story forward and it seems to suck you more into the game and makes you play more and longer, which should be a good thing for a sub based MMO.

Eve is unique in a way, since a lot of the Lore of Eve comes from the players themselves. BOB alliance has become part of the Lore of Eve, and so has Goonswarm, and maybe someday, a guy that started his trial last week, might become part of the Lore of Eve that people will talk about for years to come ! And that is the beauty of Eve in my opinion.

Participants:
How To Be Terrible At Eve: A Guide – Blog Banter #48 – Lore
Sand, Cider and Spaceships – BB48 – In The Future, In a Star Cluster Far, Far Away…..
Warp Drive Active – Blog Banter #48 The Importance of Lore
Eveoganda – BB#48: Lore is our Soul
Astral’s Eve Trial By Fire – Blog Banter 48
Emergent Patroller – Blog Banter 48 – Our fictional cultural heritage
Mabrick’s Mumblings – BB48: Pile of Bricks
Faction Fit Pod – BB#48 – Life of Lore
Inner Sanctum of the Ninveah – Lore. What is it Good For?
Sered’s Lives – Blog Banter 48: Suspension of Disbelief
Space Business, Serious Business – To fluff or not to fluff
Low Sec Lifestyle – Blog Banter #48
Jester’s Trek – My story is the same as yours just one chapter ahead
Roc’s Ramblings – Blog Banter 48 – Lore
Life on the Bubble – Art of War Alliance – BB48: Who Are You?
Fiddler’s Edge – Eve Lore: Blog Banter 48
The Ancient Gaming Noob – Blog Banter #48 – You Want the Lore? You Can’t Handle the Lore!
Wherein Ships Explode. A Lot – Blog Banter 48: Stop! In the name of the Lore!
Morphisat’s Blog – BB #48- Eve Lore
Ugleb’s Journal – BB48 – Lore: the conflict driver
Aggressive Logistics – BB48 – The Dystopia Effect
A Journey Through The Mind – Blogbanter: I reject your reality and substitude my own
Poetic Discourse – The Caldari Alliance Championship 2005 (or Alliance Tournament I)
A CARBON Based Life – Folklore in New Eden… BB48: Lore

BB #47–Wise men say

Intro:

Ripard Teg over at Jester’s Trek wrote a post called Don’t Do Anything Stupid and offered it as the basis of a Blog Banter as he is curious what others feel on the subject. Personally, I’m restarting manufacturing that I haven’t done in years and finding myself having forgotten almost as much as I knew the first time around.

So this month’s Blog Banter will gravitate around knowledge, specifically EVE knowledge. Some examples of topics to cover: Is EVE too complex for one person to know everything? Is it, in fact, too complex for one person to know everything about one topic? How do you maintain any knowledge or skills related to EVE over time with breaks and expansions? Does CCP do a sufficient job documenting the features of the game, and if not, what could they do better? How does one determine where the gaps in their knowledge even are?

My response 

We all know that famous pic of Eve’s learning curve. The thing with Eve in my opinion is that it’s it more overwhelming than it is difficult. There are many things to do and a lot of things to learn so as a new player (and more so in the past than it is now with the new tutorials) that you just don’t know where to start.

Once you learn the basics though, common sense does take you a long way. Fitting ships for example is not too hard once you grasp the basics of shield and armor tanking. Of course there are some specialist roles / ships that need some more knowledge, but that’s what blogs, the eve forums, and the wiki are for. Eve is indeed too complex to know it all. But it’s not necessary to know it all to be honest. I do think after more than 7 years in the game I do know quite a bit, but it’s more general knowledge. I don’t know the first thing about capital ships for example, since I never use them, nor do I have a need for one.

Getting back to that learning curve pic, when you start you feel as if you need to know it all in order to properly play the game and to enjoy it more. But once you start carving out your niche, like industry, mining and maybe a pvp’er, playing tackle in a bigger corp, you start to find out that you don’t need to know it all. Just know your particular area of the game, use some common sense, use the wiki, blogs etc. and you’ll be alright.

Regarding the question how do you determine there are gaps in your knowledge: That is a hard one. I do try to keep up with Dev Blogs on what’s coming and reading Eve Blogs, but sometimes a new module or a new game mechanic does escape me. When people in alliance chat discuss the new thing I do ask what they’re talking about and try to read up on the subject.

Links to the other participants at :

http://www.ninveah.com/2013/07/blog-banter-47.html

BB 42 – Eve In Review – Exploration

From the Freebooted BB 42 initial post:

“A gaming universe as vast and unique as EVE Online is constantly evolving and the experience is different for every participant. Conventional games review techniques cannot possibly hope to provide an accurate measure of every aspect of EVE’s gameplay. However, with a community initiative like the Blog Banters, we have the resources to deliver the most thorough and up-to-date review ever.

By combining the experiences of contributors from across the EVE metasphere, we get a wealth of opinions from veterans and rookies alike. We’ll be able to combine input from faction warfare specialists, wormhole residents, null-sec warriors, missioners, pirates, industrialists, roleplayers, politicians and more to paint a complete picture of the health and progress of EVE Online in its current Retribution incarnation.

Who better to review EVE Online than those who know it best?”

For this review I’ll be focusing on one of my favorite aspects of Eve: Exploration. By any means would I consider myself an expert on the subject, but it’s something I got a lot of experience in, especially the last six months or so when I moved into a C2 wormhole. This is by no means a tutorial, but a review of sorts of this fascinating side of Eve.

What is exploration

From the Eve Wiki : Exploration is the art of scanning a solar system for Deadspace signatures that do not normally appear on a ship’s scanners or overview. These Deadspace zones are designed to reward players for the additional work required to reveal them.

An explorer searches for sites in space, these can be gas clouds, archeology sites, a hidden belt filled with valuable ore, waiting to be mined, or a combat site. They all need different tools to be exploited, so an explorer needs quite a few skills (in game as real life) needs to be diverse. All sites need some combat skills, the lower you get in security status (not your own, but the system’s sec stat), the harder these sites and the ‘rats’ in them become. And since Retribution the enhanced AI also applies to complexes found with exploration.

Continue reading BB 42 – Eve In Review – Exploration

BB 40 : eSports and Eve

We got an interesting subject for this blog banter :

Fresh from publishing the community spotlight on the EVE blogosphere and Blog Banters, CCP Phantom has suggested a banter focus on competitive tournaments.

There is no finer spectacle in the universe of EVE Online than the explosive dance of weapon-laden spaceships in combat. The yearly Alliance Tournament is the jewel in EVE Online’s eSports crown and the upcoming New Eden Open should deliver the same gladiatorial entertainment showcase.

Given the scope of the sandbox, what part should eSports play in EVE Online and what other formats could provide internet spaceship entertainment for spectators and participants alike?

First let’s take a look at what is eSports to me. With eSports I think of FPSes like Counter Strike, League of Legends and my personal favourite Starcraft II. Especially League of Legends is growing very rapidly. That is probably mainly because it is sich a low threshold game. Anyone with a half decent PC can download it and play. Which gives them at least a basic understanding of what is going on in the game.

Starcraft was eSports no. 1, but it might be dwindling a little lately, not in the least because of a lot of drama in that scene, and the game becoming a little stagnant. I am not very familiar with the FPS eSport scene, but if you do it’s not very hard to follow what the point is, it is to shoot each other with guns.

Starcraft 2 Pros

To be honest I don’t think Eve belongs in the eSports category. It’s very hard to follow for an outsider. What is the fun of the Eve tournament ? It’s the various setups and fittings teams will bring to the arena, the variety (or lack thereof), the speculation, what if Team A brought eWar instead of DPS etc etc.. Believe me when I say that I love the Alliance Tournament to bits, and it’s always a fun period in Eve around that time. Hanging around in various chat channels and the last few years on Twitter is great. And I guess it’s as close to eSports as Eve has to offer, but it’s such a niche game and not very accessible to the general public, nor is it that great to watch (orbiting spaceships and / or blue and red pluses) that I don’t think Eve has much to do with eSports.

Having said that, the question was what part should eSports play in EVE Online. Besides the yearly Alliance Tournament, my very short answer would be None. I don’t really see the point of the $10.000 tournament. I might be watching it a little, but I don’t really care about it, and I am not really opposed to it either. The pretty high threshold to enter, using an auction and all that doesn’t seem very fair to me, but if they want to go that route, it’s up to CCP. I guess they want to remove some plex out of the economy.

Some other form of eSports would be a wow battleground type of thing I guess ? Arenas and the like ? Well that kind of thing wouldn’t fit at all in Eve, it just doesn’t feel right to me and I hope it will never get to that.

Here are some more blog banters:

E-Sports Punditry to follow:

BB #38 – Some things will never change

Here is the intro to BB# 38 :

Blog Banter 38: Dogma
In his recent “That’s just the way it is” post on Jester’s Trek, blogger Ripard Teg posits that the established EVE player-base has come to accept many of EVE’s design idiosyncrasies, rarely questioning their purpose or benefit. Conversely, he also suggests that new players might not be so forgiving of these “quirks”. In an interview with Gamasutra, Senior Producer CCP Unifex describes EVE Online’s developers as “relatively hands-off janitors of the virtual world”, underlining that he has only four content developers but “a lot” of programmers and engineers.

 

Has a culture developed where CCP has started to take player effort for granted – expecting the “social engine” to fulfil tasks that might otherwise be CCP’s responsibility? Or should this culture be embraced as part of “emergent gameplay” with these quirks accepted as the catalyst for interaction?

Idiosyncrasy

Eve’s idiosyncrasies are part of it’s charm. Whether they are appreciated by new players I don’t know. There are still players coming and going so I guess there are still people who can get over the learning curve. And let’s face it, a lot has been done over the past years to make Eve a more comfortable place for the new player. The new wiki is also very nice. I don’t see anything wrong with players turning to player created info (like blogs or the excellent Eve Uni Wiki) for extra info. Hell, eve warcraft has Wowhead. I don’t see anything wrong with that. It also leads to players looking for Player Run Corporations sooner since that’s where you learn the most.

 

A lot of these infamous Eve idiosyncrasies are being fixed in the past two expansion, and there is team papercuts. Also some effort is being made to make some things in Eve more convenient (like the inventory hehe). Market search will improve in the next major update for example.