The State of EVE Online | A Response


I encourage you to go read Dunk Dinkle's recent column entitled "The State of EVE Online - Summer 2022" before you read the following response.

I'm not going to spend my time arguing or debating the points that Dunk brings up in his column, because I'm sure he believes the things he says and has given his column a lot of considered thought. He is free to believe what he has written. And his perspective is a lot different than my own. He is looking at the game from being intimately involved with a large Null Sec alliance and his experiences on that side of Eve. Which again, is fine. We all have our own perspectives. I have mine, others have theirs. But, like Dunk, I've also played Eve for 14 years now. So I'd like to offer my own opinion, perspective, and outlook based around the column he has written. So let me try and offer and alternative viewpoint.

Perspective is important. As mentioned above Dunk and myself come at this game from two different perspectives. Both are valid in my opinion. And despite the fact that Kotaku doesn't write articles based around my own experiences in Eve Online - I don't believe what I do everyday is "bullshit". That opinion is grounded in the Null Sec players experience and perspective, one that is entirely focused around the myth that their own play style is the only one that truly matters. That, dear reader, is his perspective. And we all have one. Wormholers, High Seccers, Pochven players, Low Sec Pirates, everyone who plays this game of ours has their own perspective about the game. Start any debate in this community and it won't take long to see those expressed for yourself. We hold those perspectives to our chests around here.

But individual player perspectives are unimportant in the grand scheme of things. When it comes to large scale impact within Eve Online and the long-term stability of the game - individually we have a tremendous difficulty seeing beyond our own limited horizon. A Null Sec player tends to believe all "fixes" to Eve happen to be Null Sec based. Wormholers will argue that local needs to be removed everywhere. Low Sec players believe that Faction Warfare is the key to fixing everything. And on and on. And while this is normal human thinking, it does little to alleviate the obvious issues that keep Eve from being the success we all believe it should have been or could yet be. 

Every day when I log into Eve the first thing I do is look at the current player count on the launcher. This tells me immediately what kind of day I'm about to have. Yesterday when I logged in that number was in the 19,000 range. Last Saturday when I logged in that number was slightly over 31,000. Those are two completely different types of days inside of Eve Online. I strongly believe that if we had daily numbers in the 40-50k range most of our issues with that game would be taken care of. More people equals more content and more content equals more conflict and more conflict equals more things for everyone to do and stay busy doing.

Of course right now you are thinking "duh". More people playing Eve would be awesome Rixx, this is a silly point to be making. But think about it for a minute. If most of our problems would be solved by more people playing the game - do we actually have any problems? Ah, you argue that it is the problems that are keeping people from playing. I see. So you want to believe that a new player who knows very little about Eve Online is choosing not to play Eve because there is local intel available in every system outside of a Wormhole? Or because there are no great wars being written about on Kotaku or wherever? Or because the Venture has WCS built into it? This is not true. New players are not choosing other games because of those, or any other reasons, you might bring up. Those reasons are why players are LEAVING Eve.

Half of all players playing Eve right now have been playing Eve for less than two years. 

No one expects all players who start playing our game to stay for 14 years. That would be silly. But we do need to do a better job of welcoming new players, promoting the game, marketing the game, and generally making the game a more exciting place to be. There is no doubt about any of that. We all know it. We live it every day. We just need to better understand that these things we debate about and argue about and yell about are not the real problem with Eve.

The real problem with Eve goes way beyond those issues. It is a fundamental design problem that keeps Eve operating as a niche game with tremendous potential. To see 50,000 players on our launcher would require changing the fundamental aspects that make Eve Online the game it has been for the last 19 years. And changing the fundamental aspects of Eve might just be the reason the game actually does finally die. There is a tremendous amount of risk involved in such drastic changes, risks for CCP Games and all of their employees, risk for us as long-term players, and risks for any new player that comes along to give this magical new game a try. Because it might not work the way you think it will.

Eve is an amazing game. A sandbox. A choose your own adventure game. I enjoy playing it every day I can. I log in for 30 minutes or three hours and I enjoy my time in the game. I enjoy it because of the players I fly with in Stay Frosty and ABA, the players I fly against in the neighborhoods I fly in, the community that I am involved with, and because I love spaceships. I do not personally have any issues with Eve Online because, from the beginning, I understood that I was playing a game given to me by developers that understood that as long as the rules apply to everyone - everyone was playing the same game. It honestly doesn't actually matter what those rules are. It doesn't. As long as we all play under the same rules - they could be literally anything. This doesn't mean that CCP doesn't sometimes make mistakes, they obviously have, but what it means is that they are simply custodians. It is us, the players, that make Eve work. All the responsibility rests on our shoulders. That is what a sandbox means.

This is not a popular type of game right now. 

And that is a truth that a lot of people have difficulty accepting. Is your hangar full of Titans? Is that CCP's fault or yours? Can't find anything to do today? Is that actually CCP's fault, or yours? There aren't any wars to fight in? Is that really CCP's fault, or yours? I've actually started wars because I was bored. It was easy. It took time sure, it took effort, of course, but I did it. And I did it not when I had 250m skillpoints and had played Eve for decades - no I started wars way back when I first started playing Eve down in Providence. Back when I had 8m skillpoints and couldn't even properly fly a Battleship yet. So what is stopping you?

It's a sandbox. Get off your ass and make something happen. Change careers, find friends, create content, stop whining about CCP and go make the universe YOU want actually happen. I'll give you one more example before I start wrapping this all up and getting around to my real point. I work a lot. Back in the day I worked even more than I do these days. When I was in Null Sec I could really only play on the weekends. This did not settle well with me. So I started thinking about how I could manipulate Eve into the type of game that I could spend more time playing, but at smaller intervals. In smaller chunks of time. The type of game that I could log into for shorter periods of time, that wouldn't require me to sit on a Titan bridge for 4 hours. I manifested a new Eve for myself. It was hard. It took years for me to figure it out and find enough people to help make it happen. But eventually I succeeded. Eventually I created a brand new Eve Online for myself that represented what I believed to be the perfect Eve Online that I would enjoy playing. I called this brand new Eve Online "Stay Frosty" and for the last ten years I've been playing that version of Eve exclusively. And I've enjoyed every single second of it. Along the way I've shared that version of the game with thousands of players. I've created events that have broken records. Been in seven Alliance Tournaments. And who knows how many other tournaments. And written millions of words here in these pages. And met hundreds and hundreds of people I call my friends.

So, what have you been doing with your sandbox?

So, back to the State of Eve. Let's not wipe the server ok? That's just dumb, why rid the world of all we've created together these last 19 years? If CCP wants to create an alternative Eve somewhere on another server I'm fine with that, it would be a different game. That's fine. But I happen to be a proponent of the Eve Forever class - so leave my server alone. But if you want to make Eve Online a better game there are a few extremely hard choices that need to be made - and here are a few of them:

• One Player-Owned-Structure per system. One Citadel and one Industrial structure in each system and that's it. Either you own the system or you don't. No more hundreds of citadels in certain systems. Fight for your right to own the system. There you go, instant conflict and demand.

• Eliminate War Decs. The war dec system is broken, exploitable, and stupid. Get rid of it entirely.

• Green High Sec. Let the carebears have it. Eliminate combat in HS systems above a certain sec status, decide for yourselves which is which. There should be a safe harbor in Eve, let's stop debating this crap and just give in. This will help new players we all know it would, so let's stop pretending and kill the ganker industry all together. It wouldn't by the way, they'd just have to work harder at it just like the rest of us. This would immediately make Eve better.

(What are the details? I dunno. What sec status is impacted? I dunno that either. But I believe we could work it out so it makes sense. And no, I don't want to totally eliminate HS combat systems, I just think they should be spread out more widely. And that certain systems can be totally green for new players.)

• Kill Cynos and Jump Bridges. Want to make people work together? I do and this would do it. Gates exist for a reason, let's start using them. Find some friends to scout your sorry butt around in space.

(And of course there are lots to debate here. Should Industrial cynos stay? Can we develop rules around their use? Of course we can. This is a complicated issue obviously. Again, we can actually be smart and considered when making radical changes.)

• 24 hour API feed delay. CCP should immediately put a time delay on all API data of 24 hours. We can wait a day for our zKill to update. And everything else this entails. Kill the immediate nature of information. It is bad for the game. Period. This is a no-brainer.

(Conflict data is what I'm talking about here, not market data, or wormhole data, or other useful types of data that some 3rd party applications use. Let's be smart about what we choose to release and when we release it.)

• Kill Bots. This one is so obvious. I have no idea how to actually do this. But we should make it impossible to bot anything.

I could go on. But those changes would immediately make Eve a much better, more engaging, and more conflict driven game. It would provide safe harbor for new players to get their feet under them, create conflict drivers, and spread people out a LOT more. You need 15 different Citadels? Then you'll need 15 different systems and you'll need to hold those, because your neighbor also needs 15 systems.

Oh and let's just be honest here. Make resources easier to get everywhere, mix them up, and randomize them every 24 hours. More ships, more resources, but make them harder to predict and harder to find. Let's help the industry people and drive even more conflict so things blow up more often. Cheaper ships directly translates into less risk averse behaviors. 

See? Fixing Eve is easy. But you, the players reading this, you don't want any of that. You are already finding fault in those suggestions. Aren't you?

And that, my friends, is the entire point. We make Eve better by making it more Eve.

Eve Forever.