So CCP put out a dev blog and it’s a doozy. Lots to digest, tons of questions. CZ chat is blowing up, as is everywhere else, so we figured we’d just let our staff let it all out and then publish the results. Without further ado, therefore, the edited-only-for-grammar musings of the CZ Staff:

Mr Hyde: These have been the longest three days of my life not talking about this. Read the whole blog and Q&A before posting dumb questions or sperging at CCP/CSM, thx. Detailed article incoming soon.

Apothne: This is a system that I’ve been expecting some form of for quite a while now, and I couldn’t more more excited for the potential new blood it will infuse into our game.

If CCP pull it off right then we should see a new breed of newbros who stick around for much longer than before

Ashley Traynor: Clone grade alpha is going to be the best thing to happen to Eve in a very, very long time. I’ll say that now and stick by it. For the longest time, newbros have been turned off by trials, with their short 21 day lifespan and skill limits. It really does seem like clone grade alpha can solve that though. If CCP pull it off right then we should see a new breed of newbros who stick around for much longer than before. They’ll train up their alpha skills and get pulled in by the allure of this fantastic universe; it’ll be fucking bliss and the “Eve is dead” criers can kindly stop.

Now that that’s out of the way. WEW HERE WE FUCKING GO THIS IS GOING TO BE AMAZING

Sanders Schmittlaub: We’ll talk later, I have this massive erection I need to deal with right now.


This is probably the best news for Eve turning itself into the Second Decade. Vet retention will go through the fucking roof. We saw people returning for big events, blopping Goons, big fights and such, but that’s just because people stayed in touch via reddit or the forums. And those were few of the actual people that played and wanted to get back in ‘one day’. Now they all can, because they’ll never really ‘leave’.

Public chat channels for corp and such, out of game, have been requested for ages, and so far, no delivery. Not rarely have i heard the quote ‘I pay 15usd/mo just for chat’, but this is putting that idea on overdrive.

Just imagine this… You’re not subbed, doing trivial shit in your corp’s citadel, and the call comes in. Shit is going DOWN. Like shit you can actually partake in and affect. And you’ll get hyped, and your dudes will be ‘OK WHERE ARE WE GOING’ on Teamspeak and you have a choice before you. One that’ll be simple for anyone that plays EVE right now. You’ll go sub and go fly that fucking Rattlesnake with your dudes and go wreck face.

Because you’re hyped, and because you can have immediate effect. Social ties are some of the strongest denominators for Eve, and they were easily severable before by the paywall. A lot of vets check on Reddit/forums/tweetfleet slack just because they like Eve and want to stay up to date, even if they don’t really play.

Now they can even log in, maybe kill a dude in a T1 cruiser, let alone actually keep tabs and interact with their dudes.

Holy shitballs this is huge.

And for new players, or players that thought this isn’t worth a full sub, even if they liked mining their shit, or doing their missions. They can do that now. They can even fucking go explore, and chat, and interact with the sandbox. Without no initial ‘big investment’ of either time or money. No more 21 days then ‘eh this was cool, too bad’.

that little bit can be the ‘moment’ that’ll make you love EVE again

EVE will be ‘there’ for them, as a permanent install, just like World of Tanks or War Thunder is for a lot of people right now. You’ll check in, see what’s new, play a bit. And that little bit can be the ‘moment’ that’ll make you love EVE again and become part of this community.

Literally, i just called a friend now, almost hyperventilating, since this was the exact thing that he has been waiting for. He’d partake, and be part of Eve, but he just did not/could not afford the sub price or didn’t want that strain. He’d have no problem with the limited skillset and such, and he’ll be coming back to play.

Yes, these people exist. And they are more than you think.

Even if you read these lines and don’t fully get how monumental this is for Eve, just trust me, trust the passion in the lines i’ve written above, and know that we’re in for a much better Eve in the coming years.

And i haven’t even read the FAQ on the devblog yet. Because i don’t care. Any trivial gameplay repercussions are tiny compared to the scale of this. I don’t /care/ if some alts will end up for scouting. I don’t care if five people find a way to exploit this, or how this will impact the SP market, and i don’t care about the fate of nullsec or lowsec, or highsec and how this’ll be ‘apocalyptic’.

I don’t care. Let the world burn. It’s a small price to pay for a livelier universe filled with more ‘what if’s’, ‘i want to do that’’s, and even ‘fuck..’’s.

I welcome the age in which someone can see a fight in a system hitting the real-world news, and then have them think: ‘I can get there, I can be part of that’.

The interconnected nature of EVE’s single shard design just got bigger. Way bigger.

Rixx Javix: It is difficult to follow up Cosmo’s comments. But I find it extremely challenging to think of anything negative about the introduction of more fish in my barrel. Certainly there might be more ECM Frigates, or swarms of Vexors, or more ganking in HS, or any one of a hundred other scenarios – but the end result of all of them is more people playing EVE. And more people playing EVE is better than less people playing EVE. I’ll leave it to others who are more knowledgeable than me about LP and SP markets, or one of a thousand other potential areas impacted by this new clone state. Right now, on the first day, this all seems incredibly well considered and immediately impactful. What an interesting way to bring a F2P element into EVE. Well done. I look forward to exploding more ships.

Jakob Anedalle: Within a hour of this devblog landing I received a IM from a coworker with a lapsed account:  “Alpha clones! This is perfect for me. I just want to tool around in tech 1 ships anyway and game the market.  This is awesome.”  I’m guessing CCP paired the youtube/devblog with a marketing email to some subset of lapsed accounts (I haven’t gotten one on my single lapsed account as of this writing).  Bottom line is that we’re going to have a lot of people come back into Eve. The real question is if that will substantially improve the experience of the Omega clone players (aka playing customers) or the health of the game overall (by converting Alpha players to Omega players).

I think that in general on the first point we can consider this a wash – yes there will be more players to be your targets, scam-victims, and cannon fodder in the short term.  But there will also be more alts intruding in your space too.  The immediate expectation for lowsec that off-grid boosters will be replaced by on-grid Alpha Griffins is pretty much a sure thing.  If you’re in high-sec and deal with a limited resource (mining belts, whatever) expect those to be either reinforced or wiped.  Imagine what the next Blood Raider / Serpentis event will be like with all of these new people wanting in (both good and bad).

Can CCP hire and train new support staff in the next three months?

On the second point, this is a huge investment by CCP and I think it is interesting that it is being announced before we’ve heard anything about improvements to the NPE.  If we have a flood of new players in November, but the experience is the same and the CCP support staff is even more overworked by the volume, then the overall outcome may not be good.  Can CCP hire and train new support staff in the next three months?  If not, lots of people who would be interested in Eve might try it and turn away, now with a new psychological barrier to ever returning.  On the other hand, we can’t expect CCP to stop making efforts to improve the game’s standing until they have some mythical “perfect implementation” ready to launch.

Neville Smit: My first bittervet knee-jerk reaction to clone states is: “Ugh.” But I’ve resolved to take a deep breath, read the dev blog slowly and carefully, and try to digest this before making any judgement…

OK, I’m back. While I’m all for finding ways to get more players into EVE Online, I am suspicious of this clone state plan. I have three immediate concerns:

1. Of course people are going to use alpha clones to instantly create fleets of suicide gankers. CCP’s language in the FAQ is either hopelessly naive, or just wishful thinking. This is going to create havoc in high sec, until CCP sees the light and forces safeties on in high sec for all alpha clone pilots. I wish they’d do so from the get-go.

2. Let’s say this plan is wildly successful, and armies of new players flood into EVE Online. They will all still hit the wall of the less-than-wonderful new player experience, as Jakob noted. The retention rate will still be much lower than it should be – and now you’ve given a bad taste for EVE Online to a larger number of possible future customers. Wouldn’t it be better to let CCP Ghost and his team improve the NPE first, before opening the floodgates to the unwashed masses? In this regard, this scheme seems premature.

3. How does this affect CCP’s business model? How do they make money on this? The intent clearly is to encourage new players to upgrade to a full Omega clone subscription, and of course more players mean more potential purchases of things like injectors, SKINs, hats, monocles, whatever. But I get the feeling we don’t yet know the whole story here – what’s the next step? F2P is almost inextricably linked to P2W options – what is CCP’s revised monetization strategy? Will there be intermediate clone states between Alpha and Omega, with tiers of subscriptions, each with a limit on accessible skills, ships, and max skill points? There’s a longer term plan here, I am sure, but it is hidden. Is this just the first step in a slow seduction towards a P2W business model?

Regardless of my concerns, I wish CCP well with this initiative. It’s a bold move, and if it works as hoped, it could provide a lot more content (a.k.a., targets) in the game. It’s hard to be against that, on principle. I only hope CCP leadership has thought it through, beyond the initial introduction. Once this door is opened, there’s no turning back.

Seleene: My alliance, like most I imagine, is basically going bonkers at this announcement. What’s interesting is the lack of salt involved. While some folks are all, “OMG F2P IS HERE EVE CONFIRMED DYING!!”, most are cautiously curious and accepting. Maybe because, like many older players, a lot of us felt something along these lines was bound to happen. There are too many successful examples in the MMO industry for CCP to not go this route.

I do wonder if something triggered this NOW or if it was always gonna be a “Winter 2016” thing

It’s not breaking any NDA to state that CCP have thinking seriously about going this way for years. In my opinion, it was inevitable but I figured they’d wait a bit longer.  I do wonder if something triggered this NOW or if it was always gonna be a “Winter 2016” thing.  It does look fairly well thought out though for an initial presentation. I am very curious to see what CCP does to take advantage of what will likely be a flood of “Alphas” into the game. If they are interested at all in making money they should seriously look at re-vamping everything from SKIN prices to adding new .99 cent vanity items to character customization.

In game, I wouldn’t be shocked to see a new wave of EVE University / Pandemic Horde-like institutions spring up, which I think will be awesome. I very much want to see tons of new players enjoying EVE and marvelling at it with starry eyes like I did so long ago. I want go to any given system and see 50 dudes logged in doing shit… and then recruit or murder them.  If this does anything, it will certainly create opportunity in the sandbox and that’s something I look forward to seeing.

Last random thought – Zkill?  Better upgrade your server, buddy.

Kojaimea Sakamoto: As soon as I heard this news I was first thinking of how to exploit it (Typical Eve player) and whilst I’m sure many have already figured out ways in which they can take advantage of the system the overall change is very positive.

The second thing I did was contact my friends who had previously tried Eve but were heavily put off by the subscription fee and wished they could attempt the game more before committing to it. Still waiting on a reply from some but the general consensus is that they will definitely give the game another try.

If we can get more players to spend time on their accounts (Even if they never upgrade) then the Eve universe will flourish even more. However with this change I expect to see the alliances of Brave and Pandemic Legion take the forefront even more than they currently do as the meta shifts once again towards the larger gangs and not necessarily the most skilled.

DireNecessity:  I like it if for no other reason than, when I attend EVE Vegas this year, I get to put “DireNecessity: Omega” on my name tag and accrue all the benefits being a Very Important Player provides.  “Fear My Alpha Strike” ain’t going to mean what it used to.

removing one barrier can reveal challenges that are far harder to surmount

Danikov: I always seem to be the one sporting the grumpy cap. I think a lot of the hype others have for this is overblown and disproportionate. Free to play does lower some barriers for acquisition and reacquisition of new and past players, but removing one barrier can reveal challenges that are far harder to surmount, such as the steep learning curve, not enough strong, deep PvE content, having a client anyone can run, or being incapable of dealing with the larger player counts on a single node.

The general consensus is that there’s no question that this is the right direction to move in, that much became obvious years ago. Unlike CCP’s rapid and insightful pivot into the VR sector, EVE Online continues to exhibit a torpid pace of development that can be frustrating to watch, let alone subject yourself to. Furthermore, the positioning of the community to advise on all upcoming changes has hobbled CCP’s ability to surprise and capitalise on any attention generated from such an announcement. Come the launch in November, the oomph from this initial announcement will be far less.

But that doesn’t mean I think it’s too little too late. Cynics have been quipping about EVE dying for years and yet it shows no sign of terminal failure. Most can agree that warm bodies are the lifeblood of EVE and it’s hard to imagine this backfiring in a way that will hurt participation across the board. I just don’t think it will be the silver bullet to make EVE great again.

Dunk Dinkle:  From the perspective of someone that deals with new pilots much of the time, this will be a good balance between bringing fresh blood into New Eden and maintaining the culture of Eve players.  Not all of the new pilots on trials worry about making ISK to pay for Plex, but it is a hinderance to many.  Alpha clones will remove the pressure to focus on making ISK for those critical early days of playing.  Video games should be fun and there is a tremendous amount of fun that Alpha clones can get into if they don’t have to stress about a trial ending.  Once they start having fun, they can get hooked and move forward in the game.

There are reasonable concerns about experienced players taking advantage of Alpha clones to cause trouble or abuse the system, but those can be addressed one at a time as they arise.  Right now, it’s way too early to bittervet about that kind of thing.  New player groups need to start theorycrafting how best to guide new players who arrive in Alpha clones to be successful parts of fleets and their overall groups.

Lastly, Svipuls are overpowered.

Niden: What if we open the gates and no one shows up? … OK, sorry, no I don’t think that will happen, an infusion of players is pretty much guaranteed and this is probably the best idea CCP have had since they decided to make a game inspired by Elite.

every serious organisation in EVE is trying to think of the best ways to leverage this potential influx of unwashed plebs

However, it will be a shock to the PvP meta, especially for the larger fleets. Players are an asset, the most important one, and right now every serious organisation in EVE is trying to think of the best ways to leverage this potential influx of unwashed plebs that can be used as meat shields or cheap, disposable force multipliers. They have to, because we all know that our enemies will. Expect to be damped to shit, ECMd to Netflix-mode, painted to the size of a small moon and TDd to virtually zero tracking. This raises the bar and means more work to stay competitive in the conflicts that matter. Clone States are good for EVE, but after it has rolled out, fleet PvP might be a whole different kettle of fish.

Organisations that are good at actively recruiting and that have a working plan on day 1 of Clone States stand the most to gain from this, and will be able to exert their will on those that don’t.

General Stargazer: I haven’t got much more to add than what’s already been said in truth. After having a day to think about it, I think it will have a positive effect on the game in the long term, especially if it does end up helping with player retention like CCP has advised.

I’m also glad that they got the NPE updates done before going ahead with this idea, but it does still make me a bit concerned. Eve has a massive learning cliff and sure there are many corps and even alliances out there now which specialises in looking after new guys, but I dread the pressure this may apply to these corps and Alliances!

It’s going to change the face of the game for sure and affect many areas, but how this will pan out in, say 5 years, who knows!

Also, it’s not everyday that a game update makes a major news outlet, but I was shocked to see this news on the BBC website today too!



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Tags: Clone States, cz minutes

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Oh Takashawa

Oh Takashawa enjoys smugness, spaceships, and burning unnecessary amounts of helium isotopes.