Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Blog Banter: The Future of EVE Online, CCP and CSM

In recent months, the relationship between CCP and it's customers has been the subject of some controversy. The player-elected Council of Stellar Management has played a key role in these events, but not for the first time they are finding CCP difficult to deal with. What effect will CCP's recent strategies have on the future of EVE Online and it's player-base? What part can and should the CSM play in shaping that future? How best can EVE Online's continued health and growth be assured?

Firstly, I would like to say well-done to Seismic Stan for taking the reins of the Blog Banter in the Post-CK time we are now in.

This topic is quite convenient as I wanted to make a post in this area. After stepping away from EvE for a few months, it was quite a surprise to find the state of the player base on my return. The only info that I really got about Incarna when it was first released were a few texts back and forth between myself and my CEO. At the time, I didn't have internet so I couldn't get onto the game even if I had wanted to. And his thoughts of the expansion did not exactly make me want to rush to re-establish connection. When I returned to the game and the community outside of it, I gotta say that I wasn't totally surprised to see the reaction. But I would never have thought that the scale of the reaction would be as large as it is.

Incarna has been a promise of CCP's for a long time now, eagerly awaited by some and feared by many. A lot of the arguments is that EvE is a game of internet spaceships, and if we are suddenly allowed to get out of our ships and start walking around, it will lose a lot of that title. People have been worried that other players will just spend there time in stations, wandering around content enough with the game to never set foot in a spaceship. This, however, does hold truth in the game as it stands (referring to station-spinning alts), but if players are drawn into the station a lot more, there are less targets to shoot out in space. And I agree with this to an extent. But this list goes on-and-on, as is evident in past Banters and many, many other Blog posts.

When I was reconnected, downloaded and logged on for the first time in the Incarna expansion, I was a little wow'd. The graphics are good and it's a fantastic sight seeing your ship floating behind you. It puts a sense of scale to things and you start to realise how big these fantastic ships are. But more than that, it is great to actually see my characters alive. No longer are they 2-D passport-sized images on our screens. They move, walk, blink, scratch... everything. And (for me) one of the best features is that we can now alter the appearance of them as much as we like, which is an excellent feature. In addition, the new agent-finder and the revised mission categories and standing-requirements makes me really have to tip my hat to CCP.

However (and there is always a however!), like a lot of other players I have more than one Alt that I like to run at the same time. I've lost count how many times I've read about this, but, yes, my graphics card also goes absolutely nuts. If I am running three accounts at the same time funny things start to happen to my characters and their surroundings. My laptop won't load the environment at all and just crashes to desktop (and both my PC and Laptop are new this year!) and I have just had to replace and upgrade the GC in my laptop after the original went up in a puff of smoke. Because of this over-demand on our precious GC's, I have turned my station environment off and have no intention of turning it back on. Which is a damn shame, really. But why, for f***'s sake, couldn't we have the good old station spinning instead of that useless 2-D backdrop of our CQ's when we turn 'Load Station Environment' off?! I have read that they are bringing a form of spinning back and, for me, that release cannot come quickly enough!

Apparel. Well, what do I say about that? As it stands, I have no intention of using it. Even the 1000AUR we received is still sat untouched in my accounts. The prices of items, I think, is ridiculous. And I am by no means alone. Will I ever use it? Hmmm, hard to say. It depends what else they bring out and whether items become reasonable. The other thing at the moment is that no one else can really see what our characters are wearing, so it seems pretty pointless at the moment even if there were some desirable items up for grabs. The head-wear is a little different - people can see that, if they are willing to spend that ridiculous amount of money on them. Personally, I won't be converting Plex's to buy anything. No way.

The other side is the possibility that this Micro-Transaction step of CCP will eventually lead into Golden Ammo. In the interviews it was stated my CCP (backed up by CSM members) that 'there are no plans' to do this. But 'there are no plans' is not 'we will never do this'. It bothers me to think that it may lead down this path, but, to be honest, I'm not going to worry a great deal until the day it happens (if it ever does).

Because I have missed out on a lot these last few months, I don't want to get too deep into the future of EvE Online. My knowledge, at the moment, is rather limited and I don't want to risk waffling about things that I don't quite understand. But from what I have gathered so far is that these new features are nothing but a test-bed for CCP's future games. This saddens me as much as it enrages me. What I fear is CCP losing sight and possibly interest in EvE and pouring their resources into the potentially bigger market of FPS's. A lot of EvE, as we all know, is broken and/or needs a good overhaul. Faction Warefare is something that seems to have been largely forgotten about. Low-Sec is still not receiving the attention that it needs. But this is nothing new. And these MT's and their recent Plex package are signs that they are struggling. If I'm honest, I would prefer it to be greed rather than desperation, as the leaked information suggests. However, business is business, and I can't argue with that.

Yes, it does seem to me that CCP are losing touch a little with their player-base. And the difficulties CSM have been having don't exactly fill us with confidence, either. The game at the moment does feel like a test-bed for their other ventures after Incarna gave us nothing but burnt-out graphics cards.

So, as beautiful as Incarna looks inside the station, I don't like the noises it makes my computer make or the loading times. Honestly, I can't wait for the return of station-spinning.