CZ Minutes: 3rd Party Addiction

Last week we talked about what it means to be filthy rich and dirt poor in EVE. One thing is for certain; those with any investment capital to speak of most certainly depend on tools outside of both the EVE client and CCP’s control. It doesn’t take long as an EVE player to find yourself using 3rd party applications such as Dotlan, EFT and EVEMon – to name a few. Anyone with any age in the game relies on these 3rd party developed assets for travel, fitting, industry, skill planning and so on. More important perhaps is the fact that even CCP rely on them, ostensibly making EVE Online dependant on applications outside of CCP control. Those new to EVE must not only ascend the learning cliff, but also find the out-of-client tools required to stay alive and competitive in New Eden. Is this state of affairs healthy for EVE or should CCP be dedicating resources to the development of tools within the client and/or under their control? Is there a middle road? Niden: In a recent article Tarek Raimo suggested that it not having an EFT equivalent (for example) within the client is a major obstacle for the new player experience. Tarek proposes that it would go a long way towards player retention in the initial phase if an in-game fitting tool and other features to make the game more self-explanatory (i.e. not having to learn about, and go to, external sources) were given development time. Unavoidably, anything developed for EVE means that something else isn’t getting fixed or created. Is this trade-off worth it, or should CCP be focusing in other areas? Joran: I think CCP is really all over the map with this issue. They recently removed sleeper kills from the API but have a million other things that could be looked at to make the NPE more intuitive. I wrote an article on the subject myself. At the very least CCP should become more uniform in their enforcement. Xander: This is a tough one. While it is important to include what is needed in the client for new players, there are three main arguments against that I can see. Firstly, you don’t want to swamp the new player with too much information or have a client that is even more cumbersome than it currently is. Secondly, the element of discovery and investigation is a good thing for new players so not giving them everything on a plate is something I can get behind. It is also likely to make them ask other people for advice and getting players engaged with other players on any level is a great way to convert them into subscribers. Thirdly, is it really worth it to have CCP developers spend many man-hours putting things in the game that already exist perfectly out of the game? I’m not sure. tl;dr – I’m really torn on this one.sister-of-eve Niden: My main issue here is that given the stance CCP have taken with 3rd party applications, meaning that they have accepted that EVE relies on them heavily, is one of stability. If EVE is a chair one of the legs of that chair is being held in place by a volunteer who could leave at any time due to X reason. That is not so say I think it is the wrong approach, I do think that essentially having a part of EVE created and controlled by the community is good thing. Mainly because the community can do it way better and because it gives a sense of involvement. However, I think that it would be in CCP’s interest and an investment in the longevity of the game to secure those outside resources in some way, such as more substantial partner programs with failsafes built in for instance. I mean consider this; the dude who runs Dotlan (or UniWiki, or Eve-Kill, etc. etc.) decides life’s too short for internet spaceships and quits, for instance. Before someone else (if ever) fills that void a huge chunk of EVE players’ quality of life will be affected negatively and that in turn always leads to lower subscriptions – completely outside of CCP control. I am torn on the ingame EFT issue though. Fitting remains one of the most difficult skills to develop for the new player, having a basic fitting tool in the client would go a long way towards helping new players get past at least the technical aspect of it. The theory and skill of fitting ships that work for a certain purpose is hard enough, players with months or even years of experience still struggle with it on occasion, and that’s where the community and making connections to other people aspect of it is anyway in my opinion. Depending on how the fitting code in EVE is written it may very well be worth it to create an ingame EFT so that new players don’t get caught on a stupid technical snag and never make it to the ‘actual’ skill of fitting. Tarek: Of course I should be arguing for this since I wrote the piece Niden quoted. Since then HVAC (may he be blessed for winning EVE) has argued vehemently against it and one of his arguments is repeated by Xander above: Should CCP dedicate time to re-invent the wheel? That made me think about my initial stance. Now Niden comes with an equally strong argument which I had never considered: What if the developers of third-party applications quit?! The fact that I had not even considered that tells me how much we have taken the existence of those third-party apps for granted. I wonder how much CCP has done the same. The development history of EVE does not bode well when it comes to the last part. CCP have repeatedly maneuvered themselves into a position where they are totally out of control. They often come up with features which are hardly thought through until the end. The current issues with nullsec are just the most glaring example of that. They often seem unable to understand what is happening with their own creation. At the same time, they have come to rely too much on those third-party developers filling in gaps that they have left in the game. Just as the players have run away with CCP’s idea for sov-null and taken it to extremes that seem too complex to solve, CCP might face a similar situation if a valuable or even unmissable third-party application vanishes. Maybe they should not devote a lot of time to the replication of third-party tools in-game, but establish a working relationship with those who provide them and prepare their eventual replacement in small steps. Joran: It seems to me CCP is trying to say “anything you can do, we can do better.” That train has already left the station. The third party developers have cornered the market. What if there was an in game EFT? How many of us would stop using the tool we are familiar with, that we have theory crafted on for years, to puzzle out a new one? You are unavoidably spending huge amounts of time and effort for something that doesn’t affect the majority of the playerbase, completely aside from whether it is good for the game in the long run. For that reason and so many more I think any idea of having everything available in the client is a horrible goal. There are no reliable boundaries of where to start and where to end. So much of all types of information come from the internet these days, it’s an impossible bar to set to have all possibilities available in the client. It’s a never ending treadmill of development, and the only solution would be to arbitrarily decide on what information they would like to be available, as it is currently, after having moved the slider further down the line. They shouldn’t be focusing on making the minutia more available, they should be focusing on making the game more intuitive.
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About the author


12 year EVE veteran, Snuffed Out scumbag, writer, graphic artist, producer, Editor-in-Chief of Crossing Zebras and the second most influential player in EVE, according to EVE Onion.