CZ Minutes: Vegas

 

EVE Vegas embodies the potency of the EVE community. Born from the will of players to connect, the now CCP run event is only outdone by Fanfest itself. In many ways, it is the North American version of Fanfest.

New trailer, new SKINs on the horizon, updates to the recruitment program, return of the EVE store, a brand new 90’s style hit from Permaband, new player-inspired AI and NPC presence in New Eden (as well as the Strong Boxes they carry), an overhaul of Defender missiles to an anti-bomb weapon system (DICKS), Engineering Complexes and near-future updates to citadels, community fittings, further details on Inception (the new NPE) – many things were either announced, further defined or proposed as possibilities at the event.

Out of all of this, what were your personal highlights? Was there anything that surprised you? Was there something you expected to see but didn’t?

DireNecessity

This was my second EVE Vegas and I have to say the onsite feeling was a little different from last year. Comparatively speaking, last year felt a tad moody and subdued while this year felt more enthusiastic and buoyant. If I may paraphrase Wilhelm Arcturus of the Ancient Gaming Noob with whom I spent a little time chatting, “I consider a game truly dying only when the developers have grown unenthusiastic about it.” Planet Hollywood was overflowing with ebullient enthusiastic developers.

people attend these conventions to gather *around* the presentations

Nobody attends these conventions just to see the presentations – you can do that at home on twitch. No, people attend these conventions to gather *around* the presentations and it’s at those interstitial gatherings where the best magic happens. Much like EVE itself, the sweet stuff isn’t in the mechanics, it’s in the interactions the mechanics generate meaning, by the Arcturus measure, (and it’s pretty good measure if you ask me), EVE’s doing just fine.


Neville Smit

I attended EVE Vegas four years ago, when it was a player-run event, and though I enjoyed myself, I didn’t find the content to be substantive enough to warrant a return. After CCP took control of EVE Vegas, I started paying more attention, and with the forthcoming release of the Ascension update, I knew this event was going to be jam-packed with interesting details on the next iteration of EVE Online. I decided I had to be there.

In retrospect, I’m very happy I chose to go. EVE Vegas 2016 turned out to exceed all of my expectations. The crowd of more than 800 attendees impressed me, as it was a very diverse audience, with representatives of every type of play style. I met folks from null-sec, wormholes, low-sec and high-sec – and miners, industrialists, hard-core PvP’ers and everything in between.

the focus of CCP’s content for EVE Vegas was entirely on Ascension

The only thing that I was looking for that I did not get was an updated roadmap for EVE Online development. I was hoping that CCP Seagull would describe where the game was heading in the longer term, and how her vision of stargates to new space was progressing. But the focus of CCP’s content for EVE Vegas was entirely on Ascension, and only a little bit beyond that, but no further.

But that is alright, since there was plenty of meaty content to digest. I was especially impressed with simulated fittings – a far more fleshed-out feature than I expected – and most of all with the new dynamic PvE content being introduced. The new NPC mining missions in asteroid belts is a far more significant development than I think most players realize. This is the beginning of a completely interactive New Eden, and will lead to making the cluster feel much more alive. I spoke briefly with CCP Larrikin about the artificial intelligence being used with these new NPCs, and the potential for application to every part of New Eden is vast. I can’t wait to see how this unfolds over the next couple of years.

But EVE Vegas not only gave me a fun crowd and excellent content, it also showed me the heart of the EVE community. Three presentations, in particular, illuminated how EVE Online affects people in ways that go far beyond the game itself. J Mcclain’s presentation on how EVE Online gave him a social support network was deeply moving. Twitch streamer Manic Velocity’s revelation that he suffers from a social anxiety disorder, and how EVE Online enables him to cope more effectively, was an uplifting message. Mynxee and Johnny Splunk, co-founder of the Signal Cartel, showed how EVE Online accommodates every type of culture and play style, even a non-violent one.

I am eager to return next year.

EVE Vegas showed me that EVE Online is more than just a great game, with a bright future, but a great community of really fun and interesting people. I am eager to return next year.


Cosmo

This Eve Vegas was a bit lighter on the grand reveals but considering the massive expansion awaiting us, it was to be expected. What was to be revealed, was revealed in short fragments ripped from the greater presentations that were filled with known constants.

While the Defender missile revival (and its alpha-clone ability to be used), the procedural NPC’s with their rewards or the integration of the patterning system (tldr cool skins+step closer to alliance logos) all deserve to be spoken of, my main gripe still sits with the NPE. I’m like a dog with a bone on this.

If you haven’t read my older piece on the future of the NPE, written before the Sisi reveal/devblog, you can find it here. It may seem a bit outdated given what we know now, but the core is still solid, and i’ll come back to it.

CCP wanted [..] to draw in those people that shut Eve off after 10-15 minutes

I have conceded the point that CCP wanted, with this story-full and immersive NPE, to manage to draw in those people that shut Eve off after 10-15 minutes because they had no idea how the utter basics of the game worked. (even if right now they just toss them to the career agents at the end and literally tell them to go mine after blowing up their ship ggccp wp)

This was needed, and i’m glad we have it, even if i may have gone a bit differently. A lot of the niggles were addressed by Ghost in his presentation and i assume will be ironed out by the 15th (like tutorial Circadian Seekers getting renamed to prevent accidental corvette ‘splosions).

I was actually reaching the point where i caught myself saying ‘you know what, it’s fine, and i guess it is pretty cool anyway’. And then CCP Ghost plopped down the future concept idea of the Operations Center and their overall view of ‘what do we do after’. You can find what i’m talking about here.

There was absolutely nothing there that i liked hearing. Quantifying Eve? Quantifying character progression? Tracking specific stats that create intrinsic meaning without actually being useful in the greater Eve? Visual progression?

I understand having a tangible feeling of progression is important in games nowadays, feeling like each day you get closer to a goal. But that isn’t Eve. Eve is akin to real combat. 95% nothing mixed with 5% of utter exhilaration. We ‘suffer’ through our own valleys and slumps in excitement to better appreciate and climb our own mountains.

But returning to the point, the Operations Center would function as a ‘roadmap’ of options you can choose. I think not so far removed from this particular well-known chart. Ghost just threw out ‘an exploration operation, an industrial operation or a combat operation’ as options a new player that finished the current NPE might be engaged in.

showing off a themepark [..] would limit the imagination

But quoting a great man, myself: “[..] there are so many niches, so many professions and so many ways to play and engage in EVE that don’t even relate to the profession lines harshly drawn by the skill-trees, [so many that] showing off a themepark-like list of things you could do would limit the imagination players could employ to discover what EVE actually allows them to do.”

@Ashterothi and even @Niden_GMVA would argue that giving them a solid roadmap and structure would help them be steered towards playing Eve and getting out there, but i fear they’ll just end up the same L4/mining carebears in highsec. ‘Once i finish these things, i’ll try finding a corp/pvping/etc’ and we all know how that goes. We’ve seen this in the past with the various NPE’s tried.

These Operations you engage in would also allow someone to get ‘a good understanding’ of what type of player you are and what you’re interests are in. You will also have a lot of stats mapping out what you tried, what you killed and other such trivialities. Maybe even achievements!

The problem is… All of this doesn’t matter.

None of that will put you on a path where you become a person that’s gonna think ‘yeah, paying 1000 euros to fly to Iceland for a few days to drink beer with space nerds sounds like a great idea!’.

Eve doesn’t need a million players. Quoting an overused meme, it just needs ‘twenty good men’. I want to try to get those twenty good men, because Ghost apparently already knows how to get the churning masses of F1 monkeys and forever-highseccers that are as lively and interesting as the new procedural NPCs.

Sounds rough? Maybe. Maybe i’m just utterly wrong. That’s also a possibility. But can Eve, not CCP, Eve, take the chance that i’m not?

Tarek

The closest I will ever get to this place is Fallout New Vegas.

The closest I will ever get to this place is Fallout New Vegas. (Cosmo: Obsidian Entertainment ftw!)

Tags: Cosmo, cz minutes, CZM, DireNecessity, Neville, Neville Smit

About the author

Cosmo

Cosmo has been playing Eve Online for the better part of a decade, on and off as most Eve 'careers' go, over the span of a dozen trials and over multiple accounts. He's your average every-man player, with no hats thrown in any rings and with enough perspective to not get bogged down in endless threadnaughts on how every new feature will 'ruin' the game.

He loves the concept of Eve and the potential of what it could be more than the actual grimy bits that currently define the experience. "An Eve Online beyond Eve Online" as he likes to put it.


  • DireNecessity

    “None of that will put you on a path where you become a person that’s gonna think ‘yeah, paying 1000 euros to fly to Iceland for a few days to drink beer with space nerds sounds like a great idea!’.”

    And that’s a very good thing! The primary purpose of the NPE is merely to commit to memory in enjoyable fashion the ‘actual grimy bits’ (quoted from your bio) of game play.

    Children’s swim lessons are not designed to propel students into the 20 good men Olympics. They’re designed to teach children how to swim adequately and they succeed best when the children enjoy it.

    EVE is a game that can take years to excel at. That’s part of its long term appeal. I’ve been here since 2009 and in many ways I’m only now finding my niche. You don’t front load 7 years of accumulated knowledge, history and confidence into an NPE. You just teach the kiddies to swim while instilling the notion that, hey, swimming can be kind of fun.

    • Cosmo

      I was discussing past the NPE. As mentioned, i can accept the new NPE at the very least teaching basics better and keeping people past the 15 minute mark. My issue was with the longer term roadplan and its very existence as a structured element to guide people in how they play Eve.

      • DireNecessity

        Fair enough. I was treating the proposed Operations Center as an extension of the NPE while you and Ghost seem to be speaking of them as entirely different entities. I believe this is a mistake. The Operations Center is merely slightly more advanced swim lessons. Lessons (especially scripted lessons which is what a computer server is going to provide you) will necessarily be structured because that’s what computers do.

        If I understand you correctly Cosmo, you’re asking for the impossible. You’re asking for an unstructured guide. There is no such thing. I mean think about it. “Hi, welcome to Iceland. I’m DireNecessity and I’ll be your tour guide. As you may know, Iceland is home to CCP’s long term successful single shard MMOG EVE Online emphasizing emergent player behavior and limited predetermined game play structure. With that in mind I’ll be giving you no suggestions about how to spend your time during your stay nor assisting you in organizing enjoyable Icelandic activities. Please keep in mind that I work for tips so I now pass the hat around. Do be generous.”

        Limited structure is still structure; might be a good idea to attempt guiding players through at least some of that structure.

        • Cosmo

          There are ways,fantastic ways, to teach them in an unstructured context when they are the engines of their willpower.

  • luobote kong

    Doesn’t anyone think the absence of the famed routemap was distinctly odd? It has been a keynote ever present for years. That’s what a keynote is for isn’t it? Let’s put it another way. Why would you take the decision to save two minutes presentation time by not talking about it? Something is definitely afoot.

    • Bill Bones

      Probably the corporate future of EVE as a commercial product hinges on Ascension. If Ascension makes EVE grow back, EVE will have a future. If not, corporate decissions will be taken to throttle down EVE development and make room for other projects.

      So maybe the roadmap will not make sense unless Ascension reverts the demographic trend, and thus EVE developers are making their best so Ascension succeeds above all things.

      It’s just a hunch, but hey, my hunch about EVE becoming F2P was quite accurate…

      (And no, I don’t think that anything done since the introduction of the Rubicon roadmap three years ago will succeed to make EVE great again. The whole philosophy behind Rubicon consists of selling the game to power customers rather than expand the customer demographic, and that’s wrong)

      • Cosmo

        People seem to think CCP is some huge company. But nowadays it’s barely peaking at 200 with staff afair. You can’t really throttle it down more than it is without getting it into ‘maintenance mode’

        • Bill Bones

          Where’s that 200 figure from? Last figures I had where of 330 employees in 2015, according to CCP’s financial statements for 2015.

      • luobote kong

        Possibly. Clearly there is a pause in what they want to tell the playerbase (and perhaps CCP employees). We can only speculate as to the reason why.

        My tinfoil… the corporate role of Eve Online is to make sufficient revenue to fund itself, provide funds for investment in other CCP projects and to contribute to CCP’s profits after paying back investors. All of these are reasonable things to expect a title to do. However, if Eve struggles to fulfil those roles then its purpose becomes more questionable in the wider context of what CCP is trying to achieve with VR for example. It becomes a dead weight overhead even if it has enough players to just tick over. A possible decision might be it is better to sell the title to release the investment made in the game rather than watch it lose value through continuing depreciation.

        Who would buy it? Chinese investors are throwing money at the games industry at the moment. Be it the 4.2 billion dollars for Ceasar Interactive by Jack Ma, or the multitude of small startups in London. Yes London where, guess what, CCP has established its corporate HQ. Why might chinese investors be interested in EVE? Well they are the only ones who have made a success out of Eve Online recently. Player activity continues to grow on Serenity under the control of Tiancity. This is full on tinfoil. But if CCP want to keep it quiet then expect more of this

    • Cosmo

      Cause that roadmap has been going very slowly? And we haven’t had any change since the last time it was presented?

      • luobote kong

        F2P doesn’t represent a change? Even if there was no progress, it could still have been restated in the space of two minutes (as happened at Fanfest). There were more reasons for including it than excluding it if only to avoid the tinfoil.

        • Cosmo

          That roadmap was purely about structures.Structures wise, we didn’t get anything else, minus just features, delivered from Fanfest to Vegas. So that’s what i meant about no progress.

          The roadmap didn’t contain any details about anything else related to what’s going on right now, f2p, boosts, etc.