THERA and The Golden Age

During an interview yesterday with Robert Purchese at Eurogamer I made the observation that Eve has recently come out of Beta and is entering its Golden Age. I'd like to officially name this age "Thera" based on what was revealed yesterday during the most recent o7 live broadcast.

And while it may seem a tad cheeky to suggest that Eve has been in Beta for the last decade, I truly believe we are well into what can only be described as its Golden Age. And, as such, the preceding years leading up to Post-Incarna Eve development seem rather Alpha/Beta do they not? And if you are reading this and being dismissive then I challenge you to think for a moment about pre-Incarna Eve/CCP. If you happened to be around for it, then take a moment to seriously think about it.

I'll wait.

Remember the stone cold silence? Remember development from the top down? Remember grand plans and expansions driven by expansion? Remember drama and leaks and memos and poorly executed development without feedback? Remember the non-spaceship dream? I do.

And now relax and let your younger self give a moments consideration to a more open world. A more aggressive expansion schedule seemingly pulled directly from player-feedback. A brighter, more colorful CCP that streams live conversations post-expansion. That communicates, that is receptive, that seemingly understands (finally) that they do indeed have actual players that care deeply about the universe they've built.

We were all so concerned during Incarna. Would CCP learn anything from that experience? Would Eve even survive? And, even if it did, what would it look like?

It is more than apparent that CCP did indeed learn valuable lessons from the Incarna experience. Not only did they learn these things intellectually, which I believe was always possible, but they implemented those learnings into actual, concrete and definitive actions. Something that was always more of a hope than an actual belief at the time. It is always difficult to change. It is fundamentally insane to alter, modify and course-correct mid-stream. And yet, the evidence is overwhelming that such things did happen. And continue to happen.

The Golden Age began with the hiring of CCP Seagull as Executive Producer. Right now, more than at any time in the past, there is a clear and definable path ahead of us. The difference now, as opposed to previous paths, is that while we still may not know the details - we can sense the truth of it. And that is huge. It cannot be understated. We may not all agree on the direction that certain elements are taking and we may feel passionate about certain elements of the path. But it is not only expansive, but it truly seems to be working.

And working can be taken in multiple meanings. New content actually works and when it doesn't, it gets fixed pretty much right away. And it is working as intended. Space is more open, more ships are viable, more content is available, more things work now. And we have no reason to believe they won't work down the road.

If Eve lives on for another decade or two, then I believe the first decade will be remembered for laying the foundation for what was to come later. And while it may not be "beta" in the traditional sense, I do believe as a metaphor it works to think of it that way.

Eve is well into its Golden Age right now. It is changing and evolving right under us. And in ways that few of us could have imagined. This is the pure definition of a Golden Age.

Will this translate into increased subscribers? Greater numbers of active loggers on? Will Eve reach new customers? Will older players give it a new shot?

I don't know the answers to those questions. But I will tell you this much. During the last two weeks I have talked to a half-dozen or so players that left Eve around 2010-2011 that have just returned. That is as many as I probably talked to in the previous year combined.

Eve is better now than it has EVER been. It is more open, more inviting, more colorful and more better in every single way it could be. This is undeniable. And, from all indications, we are only seeing the early beginnings of what is yet to come.

This is a very exciting time to be an Eve player.

Welcome to the Golden Age.


  1. If Seagull is Augustus Caesar, then it was Jon Landers who was Julius Caesar. I remember reading an interview from Unifex about his first days at the company and how he was horrified that almost on one on the production floor was actually playing the game. He laid the groundwork and got the wedge in.

    Not that I'm trying to take anything away from Seagull, but let's not forget Unifex's contribution.

    1. Not forgotten. And, in fact, much credit needs to be spread around. This kind of change doesn't come from just one person usually.

  2. Remember the non-spaceship dream? I do. WHat in the world do you and some have up their collective arses about some OTHER form of gameplay within EVE man?? Seriously, if you don't like FPgameplay, then dunt effin get out of yer ship FFS. But I'll be DAMNED if i will accept YOUR intimation that CCP Learned ANYTHING useful from the way the playerbase shit all over them for Incarna.

    All they learned was to be afraid of us... WE did that, no one else. And the greatest thing CCP Seagull has done is to say HTFU to US once again...

    Eve is better now than it has EVER been. It is more open, more inviting, more colorful and more better in every single way it could be. This is undeniable. And, from all indications, we are only seeing the early beginnings of what is yet to come.

    You wanna see a real Golden Age... let those as want to get out of their ships and live and explore and fight in in EVE in a whole NEW way... then you'll see growth like we've never seen afore...

    I just hope they make a personal WCS mod for our suits... =]

    1. Amen. Be warned, I disagree of making WiS into just the same players killing players content as space and I'd rather walk into other directions (PvE and making NPCs and standings matter, at least in Empire space).

      But the fact is that selling the game back to the same people who bought it in the past does not lead EVE into a Golden Age, and the sternest defenders of the "Golden Age" are the very reason why CCP can't call in fresh blood, implement new playstyles and try to retain a wider, more diverse and more *sustainable* audience.

      CCP Seagull is essentially designing the game into what the current players expect from it... but WHO is interested to play EVE players' game, other than EVE players?

    2. Seems to me that you have forgotten how horribly unimplemented WiS was upon release and that the entire format of WiS remains in-game - feel free to enjoy your CQ anytime you want. That was it. So any imagined awesome wonderful WiS experience is purely in your imagination, it never existed. All that WiS promised is currently alive and well in Eve - so enjoy!

      What I wanted and what most people wanted was a purpose to WiS, a purpose that was never there. CCP didn't know what the point was and it showed.

      And that is the lesson CCP learned from Incarna. Implementing things "just because" is not good enough. It was never good enough and it will never be good enough. Seriously, the sheer amount of thought, planning and implementation we see in the following releases is light years ahead of what WiS ever got.

    3. I was soooo hoping you would bring just that up Rixx... so the Lesson CCP Learned, in your estimation, is what? The CQ? So do you feel CCP intended to NEVER open the door? Do you believe CCP felt the CQ was all we would ever need or want?? Oh nooo my friend... I doubt you believe that at all… and you know it. Had they had THIS ready it would have been a completely different 'verse... and I believe you know that too.

      No the only mistake CCP made was in being over eager. They were so wowed by their own creation, the most realistic human avatar yet created, that they lost sight of the real goal... the goal of having a new avatar... Content. Somewhere to USE them.... that's what they blew...

      But WE are responsible for what came after… We are, no one else. WE dogpiled on them as hard and fast as we could... they were down, and many of us, the haters and the ragers smelled blood int eh water and they started kicking and have kept right on kicking CCP every chance they get... and what CCP learned from THAT, my friend, was to FEAR US.

      That's what CCP Seagull is fighting when she says "It's time to get over incarna and start taking risks again" and "We need to challenge and move forward with solid plans owned by teams that are building the vision in their hands. We need to turn up the volume.".... THIS is what CCP should have told us after Incarna... "HTFU, we got this, just wait and see."

      Nooo... had they not been blinded by their creations... had they just had some real 'content' ready to go with the new Avatars... and had we kept faith and not turned on them, but worked WITH them … Had we said “DAMN! Great avatars! When do we get to open the door? When do we get to board a Sleeper Station? When do we get to fulfill a ‘contract’ on someone and put gun to head in a bar?? =]

      But no… we cursed them and raged and damned them… and we’ve kept right on doing that ever since.

      No… if they had only had content for the New Avartars you and the rest of the playerbase would be singing a very different tune today... Except, I doubt you would be getting out of your dubblepoint whatever ship... and you know what? That's just fine... EVE should be for MANY playstyles... not just FiS...

      Again, CCP knew exactly what the POINT to Wis WaS… once again, I point you and all to Exploring Sleeper Stations… THIS is what we missed… this is what we lost. And WE are partly to blame.

  3. Yep, so much change. Good change.

  4. Rixx is right. Rixx is wrong. Both are true, but Rixx is about 100 times more right than he is wrong.

    WiS (Walking in Stations) was a great idea. It is potentially right for Eve. It's implementation was so wrong as to defy belief.

    Yes, it would be cool to add avatar based play to EvE. Yes, it could add many new players. Yes, it could take EvE into a new era. But to tell your existing player base of over 100,000 paying subscribers that they have to wait 18 months for new FiS (Flying in Spaceships) content is foolish bordering on suicidal.

    Each of those existing players, who love the game for what it is but yearn for more of what they loved, were being asked to shell out a year and a half of subscription fees in exchange for no new content. Instead, they'd pay to develop new content in which they had little or no interest for the purpose of interesting a wave of new players. That new wave of players had no interest in EvE before, but somehow if CCP got them involved, CCP would then focus their expansions on the old (spaceship) players once again. Ridiculous.

    If CCP were a government, and New Eden a nation, the Jita riots would have been more than symbolic. Virtually, they were very real. CCP was smart, and elected self-preservation and the interests of its citizens over pie in the sky utopianism.

    Focusing on the paying customers is good business. Trying to lure Walmart shoppers to Tiffany is not. (Whether you think EvE is Walmart or Tiffany is your choice.) Focusing EvE on its core customers was the right thing to do. Now that WoD (World of Darkness) is dead and thus CCP has no ulterior motive, EvE is playing to its actual customers' wants. Plus, with the new accelerated development and release cycle, the game is more primed than ever to expand into the new, desirable market of gamers who want avatar based play, because such play can be iterated upon slowly and without sacrifice to the core gameplay that 100,000 people already love, and which enabled CCP to exist in the first place.

    Gwydion Voleur

  5. Sorry, I understated the number of EvE subscribers by 5. It is over 500,000, not 100,000.

    Allow me to amend my opening statement; Rixx is 500 times more right than he is wrong.

    That is all.

    Gwydion Voleur

  6. It is easy to revise history into a narrative that supports your own pet theories. The truth is, for those of use that lived thru it and participated, that WiS was only a small part of the reason we demanded responsible action from CCP. WiS was implemented poorly and no one can argue that. However, it was only ONE problem among many.

    The greatest fear, at the time, was Eve turning into a pay-to-win game, the introduction of insanely priced objects (Monocles!), the arrogant leaks from leadership, and an overwhelming sense that CCP didn't actually care about the players. All of this happened during the Summer of Incarna and it was more than JUST WiS. The door became symbolic of all of that, but the door was never the only issue.

    I'm not against WiS. In fact I still believe it has great potential. But let's not re-write history here. I encourage anyone to look back thru the archives of this very blog for detailed information on that time period.

    And that is the lesson that CCP has hopefully learned. Not to fear the players, but to respect them.

    1. OK, may I ask, as I was there in Jita... in the conga line... I was there in Luminaire... spent hours shooting the Titan... I was there in Amarr... and lived thru it too Rixx... how am I revising history?

      Gwydion says, ”CCP was smart, and elected self-preservation and the interests of its citizens over pie in the sky utopianism.” At the time, due to the huge uproar over NOT JUST the new useless avatars but also over the Fearless scandal + the fear of PTW "Gold Ammo" due to Aurum & the New Store + really horribad pricing (monocles need I say moar?)… I know ALL of that was what the Jita Riots were over… not JUST WiS… we all know this.

      Gywdion's “pie in the sky utopianism” is an illogical argument… WiS was a strong potential reality in the game, not an unachievable pipedream, all that was needed was strong leadership, direction + goals and the application of time and effort. The very stuff CCP Seagull is doing today.

      And this self preservation Gwydion speaks of… was preservation from what? from who? From US that’s who… that’s who CCP learned to fear. And that is the worst thing that happened after Incarna… and that is all on us.

      And lastly I am in complete agreement in this… ”…the game is more primed than ever to expand into the new, desirable market of gamers who want avatar based play, because such play can be iterated upon slowly and without sacrifice to the core gameplay.”

      Rixx, after the tenor some of your posts regarding WiS, I am really glad to hear you say you still believe PFgameplay still has potential in EVE. I am not trying to rewrite history... I am discussing the lost opportunities that came from Incarna and the causes and after effects of that event.

      During and after Incarna, CCP was and is responsible for very poor management decisions in rolling out the new avatars before any content was ready…

      However what no one talks about is how WE, the playerbase, are responsible for NOT backing up CCP, for not pushing them for CONTENT for those amazing new avatars. For everreacting and taking the most negative stance we could… instead of supporting the company, the people, who game us EVE in the first place.

      It was the WiS opponents who screamed the loudest, and kicked the hardest and the longest and are still lashing out every chance they got even today… But I ask you… and you and you and you… where were the rest of us? Those who, like us, felt WiS had REAL potential?? Where were you when CCP needed you?

      And in case anyone wants to know where I was... I encourage you to look back thru the archives of my blog for the answer to that. I have worked to keep the faith with CCP for as long as I have flown in the amazing sandpit they have dug and shaped for us.

    2. Rixx - Not sure why you post defensively, as I was agreeing with you. Though I admit I overlooked the "greed is good" aspect of the prior situation and that it was a huge part of the revolt which led to the turnaround.

      TurAmarth - you say "Gywdion's “pie in the sky utopianism” is an illogical argument… WiS was a strong potential reality in the game, not an unachievable pipedream, all that was needed was strong leadership, direction + goals and the application of time and effort. The very stuff CCP Seagull is doing today.

      And this self preservation Gwydion speaks of… was preservation from what? from who? From US that’s who… that’s who CCP learned to fear. And that is the worst thing that happened after Incarna… and that is all on us."

      It's not an illogical argument, but you are right that those goals are now achievable. They just weren't achievable the way they did it. They assumed the existing players would sit around and eat shit for 2 years while they did it. That's the "utopianism" of the gaming company, that they can take their existing players for granted while they develop stuff for other potential new players.

      And yes, they did learn to fear us, the players. That is the best thing to have developed from Incarna, not the worst. We pay their salaries. They exist because we like their game. If we stop liking their game, they cease to exist. Why wouldn't we want to remind them of that when we stopped liking it, or at least stopped liking the way it was headed? It was our reminder to them that helped lead to the new accelerated release schedule that even you admit can help usher in, on an incremental basis this time, avatar-based play. Seagull's elevation, which you like, is one of the results of the revolt, which you hate. That's illogical.

      Are we all just arguing over semantics because we are passionate about this game or am I missing something? I don't see much real disagreement here.


    3. We are just arguing over semantics. Personally I wasn't trying to be defensive, only trying to steer the conversation away from being single-minded about WiS and keep it in context of everything else that was going on back then. None of this was really about WiS. And I still believe in the general idea of it and hope we get to open our doors someday.

      I think we are all saying essentially the same thing.

  7. I lived through Incarna.

    I raged against CCP at it.

    I raged against them for two reasons. 1) To quote a performance evaluation I once came across: "This soldier has set mediocre goals and has failed to live up to any of them." 2) Incarna was the last straw for me, and I think for many others, over CCP's practice of not fixing bugs and not iterating on existing content when such iteration was manifestly required. Oh, and 3) the Fearless newsletter

    Now, I don't think any of the WiS posters were ignorant, nor forgetful of what happened, Rixx. They simply, like me, don't buy in to the "avatars are bad and those who like them are bad" meme that sprung up amongst the l33t pvp crowd after. If WiS had been done properly, wow.

    The "lesson" CCP took from Incarna was that we didn't want WiS, nor did we want "Jesus features". Bull.

    I think most players want both. Okay, I want both :)

    I want new content (not updates), I want that content to be documented and easily available so folks who come back after time away can catch up without having to be research scholars, and most importantly, along side the new content, I want CCP to maintain and fix that which already exists. It's their job.

    1. "Avatars are bad and those who like them are bad" This, this and FUKKIN THIS!!
      This was the shame we carry... this was what WE, the playerbase did that we should be ashamed of and that we are responsible for. We did not back CCP and say, "Wow, really cool... when can we use them??"

      Again I point ALL of you to "Walking in Sleeper Stations"... THAT is what they COULD have done... that is what WE lost... had we only kept the faith... that's all I'm trying to say.

  8. If this is a Golden Age it isn't for hisec dwellers. I see your wider point and agree - but CCP have not discussed their vision for hisec for some time and they seem determined to neuter HS. Which will be a great blow to Eve, I fear.

    1. I disagree that highsec has been nerfed into the ground.

      I've been playing for 3 years. I've lived in lower class w-space for most of that time, but I've also been to null a couple times as a sov warrior and as a renter. I made most of my isk in highsec. The first 6 months I mined almost exclusively. L4 missions and Incursions provide lots of isk and, more importantly, LP.

      Highsec should never be competitive with low, null, or w-space. It absolutely MUST be good enough to allow people to choose to stay in highsec shooting red crosses or mining and make ISK (i.e. the stuff that every player can do, esp the ones like me with no head for trading or true industry projects). I know what Greyscale has said he wants to do; but then again, as far as I can tell he wants to nerf everything that isn't PvP. And he hasn't yet succeeded.

      Highsec needs new content on the same level as it already has, so as to add a bit more spice. Bu as it stands, it's not bad and that's all it really should be.

    2. Eh? I think CCP's vision for highsec matches what most people think of it as: a safe place for newbs to learn the game, a safe place for risk-averse players to make steady but small ISK, and a base for many kinds of players, especially solo players. As such they are doing pretty well. The market exists and tends to frustrate any attempts to redistribute income. Highsec pays quite well if you know what to do. I see no huge problems.

      The one thing I would change if I were CCP is I would task someone with adding level 4 missions. Imagine if we got 8 new L4s each 5 weeks. That would keep those mission runners subbing. They say they don't do this because their tools suck, and they are working on the tools. But I observe that they did it originally somehow; it is possible. The recent addition of burner missions proves the point, I think. (I wonder if they can associate subbing numbers with what players do, i.e., are "mission-runners" more likely to resub lately?)

  9. Isn't project legion our new Walking in Stations?

  10. I've been playing Eve since late 2004 with a 6-10 month hiatus before Incarna came out and I can tell you while the wonder of eve has lost is shine over time the game is far, far more enjoyable at any time in its history. Yes there are some fundamental systems which don't match up to the modern expectations of an MMO but it feels like cut and thrust of the game play is solid and working. Just look at the number of fleet doctrines / PvP game styles currently supported.

    Is Eve in a Golden age? I think its a too early to call, we have to see if the the small alliances picking up the scattered R16s / R32s in low sec can evolve into local power houses to start challenging the bigger null blocks in limited area engagements. I.e. Where they can pick the fight.

    If we see phoenixes I'll be very happy.

    A Merc


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