CZ: A Year In ReviewTarek Raimo
2015 has been a fascinating period for EVE Online. What more fitting way to end such a tumultuous period than asking the writers and editors here at Crossing Zebras to give their thoughts on the high and low points from the past year.
Xander Phoena: I was the one who posed this question to staff and even so, I’m still not sure how I can answer it myself. On the one hand, speaking purely in mechanical terms, I think EVE is in as good a spot as it has been since I started playing. I think the new sovereignty mechanics vastly improve upon what we had been dealing with since Dominion. Navigation around New Eden is more difficult making the map bigger. Large blocs have fallen and smaller entities now have the very real potential to hold space. The new ships we have seen of late have added a real depth to combat. And that’s before we consider what we know is coming in terms of Citadels, the removal of Off Grid Boosting via Brain-in-a-Box and the necessary fixes to Capitals, Supers and Titans. It’s clear that the best thing to happen in the past 12 months is drive from CCP to fix legacy issues and make EVE Online a better video game.
“I still find New Eden a fascinating place but the will to actually log in completely disappeared for me over the summer.”
And yet something is wrong. It is widely believed that subscriptions are down and CCP are giving no information that would contradict the assertation. We know that the number of people logging in on a day-to-day basis is sliding dramatically (https://www.reddit.com/r/Eve/comments/3bf0ro/eves_loggedin_player_numbers/) and I myself contribute to that statistic. I had a fantastic time at Fanfest but ever since then have felt little inclination to actually fly Internet Spaceships. I keep on top of the meta from reading the various websites and blogs, I discuss the news of the day with the staff here at CZ and I still find New Eden a fascinating place but the will to actually log in completely disappeared for me over the summer.
I’m not even sure what I can put it down to. I have no doubt that my failure to be re-elected onto CSM was a contributing factor but is not solely to blame. I just feel a general malaise about EVE right now which has nothing to do with EVE Online: The Spaceship Video Game and more to do with the wider surrounding meta. I think for me, the worst thing to happen in 2015 has been the way certain elements of the community have treated one another. I can’t sit here and claim the moral high ground – I’m sure that in some tiny, small way I have contributed to a general air of negativity. I just feel that there are a lot of us unwilling to separate the game and real life. We ride to social media, to #tweetfleet, to r/Eve, to comment sections on various news sites and we are pretty fucking despicable to one another. ‘HTFU’ is a defence only so far.
(A fascinating side-point here is you more or less never see this venom when we all congregate in real live at Fanfest or the various other EVE meets growing ever more popular.)
So call me a peace-loving Communist hippy if you will but for me the worst thing in EVE over the past year has been certain sections of the community growing ever more insular and incendiary to one another. I hope this changes in the future and we see it reflected in daily log-in figures and subscriptions.
Jason Quixos: This year I joined in the EVE meta, attended my first EVE meet and started trying to blog. The meta has been one of the things that has kept me interested in the game I have been playing for years now. At times it has been like watching one of those ever-popular car crash docu-dramas on TV – repulsive and captivating at the same time. It has enabled me to network and allowed me find players I would never have otherwise knew existed inside the gaming universe of New Eden.
Theory-crafters, artists, events organisers, in-game charity leaders, webmasters, podcasters and CCP community staff have all opened up my experience of EVE to a whole new level. I am proud that this community has some awesome people in it. This has enabled me to start a WarDec Project with several influential members of the community, including current CSM, with vested interests in the mechanics and potential suggestions for change.
“I am proud that this community has some awesome people in it. This has enabled me to start a WarDec Project”
The worst thing about my time in the meta has been finding out about the followers of the dark side. Some pretty shitty people out there who take this game too seriously, to levels of creep that make my skin crawl. I still don’t understand reddit’s power dynamic in-game, but some brilliant people do post there, only to be downvoted into a negative reputation. Go outside for fuck sake.
The failed Kickstarter by TMC has perhaps been the worst thing to happen in 2015, and I don’t mean for the RMT issues. This had the potential to be the beginning of CCP sharing its IP further with its user base who we all know can be a really creative bunch. This is not a reflection of the community, who saw the goals and ambitions of the KS for what they were – flimsy. CCP were likely promised a lot that was never delivered by the TMC media group, but they had enough to convince CCP this was a solid use for their IP. We shall have to wait and see how TMC handle their new KS in 2016, but even heavily revised I am sure it will still struggle.
Tarek Raimo: 2015 has been a turbulent year to be sure. Sov changes lead to the collapse of renter empires and left the Goonswarm-lead coalition as the last one standing. Personally I liked how things turned out. No matter how many doomsayers point at decreasing concurrent user counts, I have the feeling that on a smaller scale EVE has become much more active despite the absence of great wars. In a particularly historic turn of events, the attack by the Imperium on the Providence region left both parties entirely satisfied with the resulting content. I can not remember a time in EVE when anybody ever said they enjoyed being in a war with “the Goons”.
“I have the feeling that on a smaller scale EVE has become much more active despite the absence of great wars.”
At the same time, this year brought us new and interesting ships to play with, intriguing lore developments, amazing eye candy, the Amarr Succession Trial tournaments and great improvements to the Brain-in-a-Box code. Furthermore, CCP Seagull announced that they would return to the “grand release” schedule again for next year. While the six-week cycle was probably necessary from a development perspective, it was missing the marketing opportunity presented by major releases. The way things were described by CCP Seagull make this compromise sound like a middle ground with balance patches in between the major releases.
As far as the worst is concerned, I would name the recent Imperium/TMC/reddit drama. One part of the community has shown their worst side as they picked up the torches and pitchforks in an often mindless crusade, and the Goonswarm leadership appeared as self-entitled narcissists clinging to an outdated power structure for its own sake and potentially their personal profit and/or aggrandisation. The EVE equivalent of the Golden Raspberry (Golden Salt Dispenser?) definitely goes to Sion Kumitomo, as far as I am concerned.
Neville Smit: The best thing to happen to EVE Online in 2015: the frankly amazing amount of new features and content that CCP Games has incorporated into the game over the last 12 months. After CCP switched to a more frequent development release cycle, we players became somewhat blase about updates, because we quickly got used to seeing modest batches of changes every six weeks or so.
“It will be interesting to see what CCP does with the CSM in 2016. I would not be surprised – though it would sadden me – to see it disbanded”
Incrementally, each of those relatively small updates did not look like much, but when you look back and see all the improvements and additions that CCP delivered, it’s very impressive. If we had received this many new features in two massive expansions, as we did previously, we’d all be chattering away excitedly about all the cool stuff that CCP has provided to us in each of them. Clearly, they’ve learned a lesson from this, and now plan to issue the occasional mega-expansion, starting with EVE: Citadel in the spring, with all the expected sturm and drang from revving up and firing the CCP Games marketing hype blaster. And we will love it, I am sure.
The worst thing to happen to EVE was the erosion of confidence in the CSM by CCP Games. Previous CSMs succeeded in building a good relationship with CCP devs over the years, gradually opening up lines of communication and eventually becoming a valuable advisory resource for representing player interests. That has been largely lost this year, due to excessive meta-gaming and shenanigans from a few bad-behaving members. This is a real shame, and it must be disappointing to the many CSM representatives who have worked so hard to contribute positively to the game and to its community of players. With the addition of a new Chief Customer Officer, it will be interesting to see what CCP does with the CSM in 2016. I would not be surprised – though it would sadden me – to see it disbanded, in favor of multiple issue-oriented player focus groups, where CCP can exert more direct control.
Diana Olympos: This year has been my first full year in Eve. And what a year. The rise of the neutral state in nullsec, an active FW turned to silence around summer, a power redistribution in 0.0, new events from CCP and a lot of lore. 2015 is the first year of the EVE that CCP Seagull envisioned and honestly, I love it. Personal stories are the focus point. Many new organisations are rising, particularly in nullsec. NPSI groups are now part of the landscape. EVE is full of opportunities and there are people out there trying to leverage them.
“Aegis changed the game’s landscape in a great way, but have also made it more difficult to follow what is happening.”
Sadly, I also think 2015 was the year of the death of most of the EVE press. Between the lack of communication to the specialised press from CCP (killing the most important NPC live by surprise and not a single word on gaming press? Really?) and the new smaller and harder to track nullsec entities, the actual press coverage of EVE is really poor both in terms of player media like EveNews24 and TMC, or the wider gaming press. And it is understandable. By creating a lot of small groups, Aegis changed the game’s landscape in a great way, but have also made it more difficult to follow what is happening. These websites have just not figured out how to handle it yet. I suspect EN24 will solve this before TMC, because I don’t believe the latter is really interested in these aspects.
Look at the East and the Southwest… You know these guys? No. No press coverage.
All in all, 2015 have been a great year for Eve. It has created a great place for EVE to grow from. Let’s hope that 2016 will keep helping new entities to grow. This is the trend we want to see visible all over the community. The old models are dying and we are seeing a more organic cluster emerging.
Jakob Anedalle: I’ll start with the worst – the breakdown of confidence in the CSM is a big loss for the entire EVE community. The last few CSMs built a great working relationship with CCP that helped feed into all of the fantastic changes we’re seeing now. In the past year we’ve had all of that wrecked.
“We have great promise coming into 2016 for everyone but the most burned-bitter of players. I’m certainly looking forward to it.”
Maybe the CSM follows a natural wave pattern – we have a good CSM that builds the relationship and shows the value, then we have opportunists come in who want to make use of that value for themselves which inherently damages the process, leaving the next CSM to pick up the pieces and start rebuilding the trust.
The best part of 2015 is hard to pick out. We’ve had a very dynamic year in EVE, with new mechanics for sov, new ships, new game-world plot and events. Many predicted that 2015 was going to be the year of nullsec, with nothing for players in all of the other areas of the game. Indeed I’d say that the best thing about 2015 is this impressive blend of features, rebalancing, and events. The CCP-driven “little things” threads and CSM input (such as Sugar Kyle’s famous notebooks of lists) fed quality of life changes that we’ve seen all year. We have great promise coming into 2016 for everyone but the most burned-bitter of players. I’m certainly looking forward to it.
Luobote Kong: It has been a good year for some key parts of the game. Sadly, this has also been a period where nullsec gets a disproportionate of the available development time. Other areas of EVE are looking tired and need some love. So it is surprising that monetization of skill points seemed to have such a high priority.
The worst event this year would be the CSM`s complete lack of impact on issues such as this. It needs to be put out of its misery.
“The worst event this year would be the CSM`s complete lack of impact on issues”
The best? Lore. Jump Clones, the ability mount festival launchers on pretty much anything. But not the Echelon! Looking forward it has to be Citadels. Hopefully, this will be something that solo players can participate in.
Ashterothi: While some will comment that with declining subscriptions prove that EVE is dying, I stand true that this year was a rebuilding phase. EVE itself has grown in leaps and bounds, but my favorites are the Jump Cloak Timer and the new launcher.
The Jump Cloak Timer for me was always a thorn in my side. Not because I like to hold my cloak as long as I can, but rather because I expect my UI to give me information I need to make good decisions.
“This year saw a huge dedication to making elements clear, informative, and clean.”
For years the rule itself was well understood, but to clearly track it’s impact on you required tools outside of the client, and for years people accepted it. However these things make our game harder for newer players especially. Not because they aren’t “good enough” for our game, but that the game isn’t teaching them how to be good. This year saw a huge dedication to making elements clear, informative, and clean.
The new launcher is what I call a “real boy” feature. CCP had fallen behind in the game so to speak, and the new launcher that allows players to manage updates, settings, and servers without too much hassle. Combine that with two form authentication, and this is a record year for the tech side of the EVE client.
I look forward to what the next year will bring. CCP said what they would deliver this year, and so far they are on track more than not.
Gorski Car: 2015 has been a pretty active year for me. I have bounced around wormhole space with Aquila Inc, done highsec PVP with RvB (RIP), been in both sides of the Min/Amarr FW warzone causing a lot of drama because I am apparently disloyal and lastly I found myself rejoining Sniggerdly where I plan to spend quite some time unless I get kicked again.
Halfway through the year I somehow managed to rejoin the CSM meaning my free time was suddenly cut a whole lot. Not a big deal to be honest since most of my free time was spent on doing CSM stuff anyway. For me that was one of the biggest things. I love the CSM and I am idealistic enough to believe in it for now. I feel like it’s the best place for me at least to make the game I love better and help focus player feedback. Speaking about focus brings me to my least favourite thing this year.
“There should be a rethink on how much time devs should spend on the focus groups when they could instead simply be developing Eve.”
At the first CSM Summit Sion Kumitomo proposed a focus group idea to CCP and they loved it. Focus groups have existed in the past but were more secretive especially in terms of selecting who was involved. Sion’s idea was that every CSM member got to pick one or two people who go on a specific focus group for different topics that CCP chose. A great idea in my opinion that could have made the CSM even better at helping with some topics that might not have full coverage from the Council members themselves.
However CCP decided to run the show themselves instead, picking members and managing the whole thing. While all CSM members had a invite if they wanted, I was personally invited to the Tactical Destroyer focus group. I feel many of the people who got elected came in very enthusiastic to cure EVE from the Svipul cancer.
What happened instead was that the developers who ran the focus group spent very little time discussing issues with the players and quickly after starting it decided to moonwalk out providing no feedback. That feeling is one of the worst when you are trying to do any type of work like this, not knowing if your feedback was even read. A simple “no we are not doing that because of this” would be fine. Personally, I think there should be a rethink on how much time devs should spend on the focus groups when they could instead simply be developing Eve.
But enough with the bad. This year we had a ton of great changes added to the game. I think the biggest thing to happen was the addition of multibuy. This quality of life change has reduced my downtime immensely after dying and I know all of my friends love how you can make a fit in EFT, import it and buy all the parts required in less than a minute.
Sarin Blackfist: 2015 was my first year playing EVE Online, although I have followed the game for a long time. As such, I find it hard to pin down a ‘best’ and ‘worst’ thing that has happened this year, because everything that has happened has been a new and exciting adventure for me.
If I were forced to choose, I think the ‘holiday’ events are probably the best thing CCP has added to the game this year. They are engaging content for all skill levels, and promote both PvE and PvP interactions between players. To some they are the evidence of CCP trying to push the game into a more traditional or World of Warcraft-like MMO, but I do not believe that. So long as they can continue to provide these in-game events with decent lore and in-game reasoning attached to them, I think they will continue to add value and enjoyment for a large proportion of the playerbase.
“It’s not so much that the Opportunity changes were bad, more that they didn’t go far enough.”
I choose this over various quality of life improvements that have been made, mainly due to the fact that I think events like Frostline and the Blood Harvest, can be very engaging to new players. I don’t think that anyone who currently plays EVE can deny that the game can always use a fresh injection of new pilots. Space can get kind of lonely.
According to the rest of the team at CZ, the obvious worse thing that has happened this year has been the massive amount of CSM-based drama and frustration. However, as I’ve never seen a ‘functioning’ CSM period, I’m going to go in a different direction. I think the worst thing that CCP has done this year is the Opportunity changes to the New Player Experience. It’s not so much that the Opportunity changes were bad, more that they didn’t go far enough.
Being a new player in EVE is pretty terrible. Space is vast and scary, players are willing to deceive you, murder you, or rob you, and the learning curve is steep. The old guard of players want newbies to have it just as rough as they did, and CCP seems to think that it is the job of other players to teach the new batch. This leads to the game being massively inaccessible to anyone attempting to play it for the first time. When you add that to EVE’s relatively narrow slice of intended audience and sometimes non-interactive gameplay, you end up with a lot of people not sticking around after their trial period.
All that said, I’m very glad that CCP seems to see the problem and are trying to find a solution to it. I made it through nearly a year of EVE and absolutely love the game and the community, and I look forward to many more success stories like my own in 2016.
Danikov: Worst thing in EVE: nullsec has the appearance of having died in apathy due to fatigue and changes to sov; coalitions and alliances collapsing and coverage of EVE coming to a halt with it.
“It feels like older nullsec entities are suffocating while holding their breath waiting for the other boot to drop with the Citadel expansion.”
It feels like older nullsec entities are suffocating while holding their breath waiting for the other boot to drop with the Citadel expansion. However, the real issue is EVE coverage is being dominated by established groups, whom, in the absence of competition, manufacture verbal sparring matches and tripe rather than genuine content.
Best thing in Eve: FanFest 2015, back before galactic apathy had set in, CCP had us giddy teasing the stuff due in Citadel and beyond. Just a shame it’s taken so long to make good on it, but at least in the meantime we’ve had a steady stream of solid improvements and fixes to the core game, Brain-in-a-Box being a huge precursor to all-new technical wizardry previously prevented by the dreaded ‘legacy code’ problems. Oh, and the Valkyrie Alpha, but I can’t talk about that…
Apothne: I believe the stagnation in nullsec is a byproduct of previous years, with new-sov amongst other changes bringing new hope. The south, now balkanised, has been awash with wars of varying scale.
Anyway, my best and worst.
Best: holy shit we’ve had a lot of new stuff this year. Like, Jesus CCP, do you guys sleep? Start here. New explo sites, gorgeous belt graphics, new mining anoms, Exeq redesign, Aura in German and Russian, module rebalancing, new starmap, Recon rebalance, the Svipul, friendly fire toggle for corps, lens flare graphics toys, corp UI improvements, projectile weapon rebalance, drifters, new audio all over the place, new graphics all over the place, tons of general UI optimisation,
“Some people may be suggesting that 2015 is the year that EVE died, but in my opinion it is the year that it has been caught”
Ishtar rebalance, medium railgun rebalance, T3 subsystem rebalance, CREST API stuff, OH MY GOD SKINS, tutorial redesign, more burner missions, Confessor/Svipul rebalance (more work to be done), nullsec ore yield change, BC warp changes (thanks Gorski), A NEW SOV SYSTEM, even more burner missions, Naga redesign, PBR OHMYGODITSSOPRETTY, more module rebalancing, the Jackdaw, Alliance Logos, all the new Drifter lore and associated things, the Hecate, Caracal hull redesign, Dominix hull redesign, camera updates, new clothes, BC rebalance, more Burner missions, the beta launcher (which is cool af, get it NOW), the Crimson Harvest, Fatigue reduction, BRAIN IN A BOX YAY, Server upgrades, DScan upgrade, Probe scan upgrade, the AT, the Amarr Championships, kill marks, Ice Mining frigate, Navy EWAR ships, T2 logi frigs, Command Destroyers, new propulsion effects, missile TDs.
Not sound like much? I skipped a crapton of new features as well as all the community driven events, gatherings and tournaments. And that’s before we consider all the amazing storylines of different alliances rising and falling. We all know the PCU is down but it has now stabilised. Some people may be suggesting that 2015 is the year that EVE died (for real this time), but in my opinion it is the year that it has been caught, saved from the stagnation and given new hope for the future. It’s not going to happen immediately, but I think that the PCU is going to start steadily going back up from mid-2016.
Perhaps the “best” being how many new toys we’ve had is a bit of a cop out. For me personally the things that really stand out are the AT, the EVE_NT meetup in September and 2015 being the first year I haven’t focused all my time on FCing. I’ve explored more of the breadth of this game than ever before and I’ve fallen in love with it all the more.
The worst? The AT Hydramel collusion sucked an entire bag of sweaty, unwashed penises and the CSM drama is sad, but honestly the worst for me is the general negativity amongst huge swathes of the playerbase. EVE is an amazing, unique game – so much is going on and there’s so much to do, with a shedload of even cooler stuff on the way. Yes, there are a lot of improvements to be made and missteps have been taken, but we play an incredible game like no other so for the grumpy nerds; stop whinging, take a step back and appreciate what we have. 2016 is going to be fucking epic for New Eden, the only person stopping you from enjoying it to the fullest is you.
Niden: 2015 has been a tumultuous year. So much has happened that it is only now when I sit back and look at it all that I realise just how much.
EVE has grown in so many ways during the year. From large-scale things like Aegis sov down to a myriad of details amongst many aspects of the game, both technical and aesthetic.
“The motto of CZ has always been, and always will be, to represent as many perspectives as we can.”
When you distill it down to looking at the year in retrospect, it’s a explosion of change – for the better. The high point for me personally has not been a single event, but rather a progression. Lowsec has always been where my heart lies, and for years now it has been the most happening place in EVE. But things have only ramped up during 2015, what was already a Thunderdome is now a Thunderdome on fire with rabid ninjas on crack and wild animals let loose, on fire. I love the chaos of it, lowsec has never been better.
One of the things I really like about lowsec is the mentality. A particular aspect of that mentality is that most people here don’t give a shit about the metagame the nullsec crowd seem to enjoy so much and it’s hysterical to me when they assume that we give a fuck.
Although the rollercoaster ride of the metagame of 2015 has indeed been an interesting one, it’s not really my cup of tea. As Editor-in-Chief of CZ, it’s part of my job to stay informed and talk to people about it. That, unfortunately also means that people seem to think I am somehow involved in all that noise and that I have an “agenda”. Frankly, this is my “worst of” for 2015. The motto of CZ has always been, and always will be, to represent as many perspectives as we can. You can take your agendas and tinfoil and shove them where the sun don’t shine.
On a directly personal note, my high point of this year was that I finally got plenty of opportunities to fly my Machariel in fleets this year. It’s my favorite ship alongside the Dramiel. There’s nothing quite like firing off an artillery barrage and seeing things just vanish. That’s EVE “magic” for you :). It may seem like a little thing, but I love seeing those kill marks on my Mach. Thank you CCP.
All in all, I would say that, at least from my perspective, EVE has blossomed during 2015. There are so many wonderful improvements that just put a smile on my face every time I log in, and I’m really looking forward to what 2016 has in store!