The NPE we want?


So much has been said of the NPE. How ineffective it is. How poor of an impression it leaves on the player. Even how it might become the cause of EVE ‘dying’. The allegation that the player base is aging, like a sort of virtual Japan, can be corroborated by CCP Quant’s yearly statistic on average player age by account.

So, new players are seen as ‘the way forward’ more than any gameplay change or balancing pass. The amount of care CCP has shown, and is showing, can almost rival the effort corps and individual players put in to make newbies feel at home.

But not all iterations on the NPE have been successful. No matter how good the idea and even quality of execution behind them. The Aura tutorial, Career Agents and the Opportunity System have all had their flaws but they were all consistent in one very important way:

They were insufficient.

And this is a good thing.


Over the horizon looms CCP Ghost’s, mostly untalked about, NPE. But from what we have glimpsed it is supposed to be expansive, immersive and provide as good an overview as a controlled experience can over how EVE would be played in CCP’s vision.

We’re going to be drawn into the game via a storyline, even if structured or unstructured, tied into our race, most likely allowing us to try to have a shot at the various things to do in EVE. Issue is that whatever will be presented there, even if it covers all of that infographic, will only be a small part of the possibilities that makes EVE such a great and unique experience. An experience so compelling that I have written this spaceship-game article while on a plane to attend EVE_NT in Nottingham, to meet space-friends IRL.

But 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. Showing off a themepark-like list of things you could do would limit the imagination players could employ in what EVE actually allows them to do.

What I fear, fellow capsuleer, is not that a new player won’t get EVE, but that they would think they did and be convinced of it.

Showing off a themepark-like list […] would limit the imagination players could employ in what EVE actually allows them to do

If you check, a good deal of pilots now flying have their ‘birth date’ a few months, a year or even two before you see their corp history take off. How often have we heard “I tried EVE but didn’t get it”, only to have those same people come back later in their lives to check it again, the allure still present of a something they didn’t quite comprehend the first time around.

This happens more than a few times, I assure you, and each one of those people may have the potential to be leaders, valuable IT-minded folk, great FCs or even trivial, but ever-important logibros; core members that make this game work. And we might lose them because the NPE, for once, was good.

Yes they’ll hopefully learn of all the trades present in the game itself, but they won’t learn of the community present on various medias. They won’t learn of the various social channels in the game. They won’t see the web of possibilities and services they can engage in, sprawling before them, that have zero relation to their character’s skills.

All of these realisations come with time and experience and are a strong part of this giant that is EVE Online. The art of forging your way that allows us to live out our fantasies vicariously in this game would be something lost to the people who would play the new feature-complete NPE. Like toys played with without context, thrown away by children too young to grasp their inherent significance.

and then decide they ‘got it’ and the game that they think they know isn’t for them

What I fear are people that understand warping and how sectors are laid out, how weapon systems and mining works, how Factional Warfare and sovereignty function… and then decide they ‘got it’ and the game that they think they know isn’t for them.

And they won’t come back.

Like a potential partner that they think they got a good impression of on the first date and decide they don’t fancy, to never know that he/she cliff-dives off the coast of Italy and delivers meals to the poor. Their minds settled, opinions formed, they will be done with EVE Online, its allure and mystery shattered as the game had disrobed, squeamishly revealed itself to them and had been found wanting.

Falsely so.

And after this flawed judgement, why would they still give it a chance after a new ‘This is EVE’ or a new B-R5? Why would they find themselves installing the client and pushing play yet again? Consuming media content and tossing it aside almost as soon as we’re done with it is part of our daily world now. Hurrying to gob up items on backlists or things pushed on us by the greater media or friends, we have become impatient, having no time for second chances that we don’t deem worthy or interesting.

But the one thing EVE can spur in us, which sets it apart from the mass of online games currently elbowing each other on the market, is our imagination. It can grip us and can entice us more than any feature list or fancy graphics. If we relegate EVE to just ‘a cool space themepark game’, as the new NPE could potentially impose, it would do more disservice to it than just leaving us bumbling in the dark.



Tags: Cosmo, NPE

About the author


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.