Showing posts with label CCP. Show all posts
Showing posts with label CCP. Show all posts

Friday, 27 January 2017

Schrödinger's CSM

Got that? Great. So now it is empirically obvious that the Council of Stellar Management (CSM), which by the way is neither a council, stellar nor manages anything, is the retirement home for the Eve undead aka bittervets, delusional opportunists and endgamers. Why? OK

Obviously, if Schrödinger was still alive you could imagine him playing Eve. I mean the mentality that considers putting a cat in a steel box (non consensually I might add) with poison, a hammer, a radioactive source and a Geiger counter tells you there is something of New Eden about the man. 

As if this cruelty wasn't enough his "thought" experiment went on. When the radioactive source emits whatever it emits (cats don't care about such things I would imagine) the Geiger counter dutifully picks this up and informs the hammer to smash the poison container, which in turn releases the poison that kills the poor moggy. Artistic but perhaps a tad over engineered.

The point being radioactive decay is random so there is no way of knowing when the cute kitten will meet its grisly end. The cat's existential state is unknown until you open the box and are greeted by the smell. The cat can be thought of as both alive and dead at the same time until it is observed. The act of observing the cat changes its state.

Which brings me to the CSM. What observations can we make. Well none obviously because of the Non Disclosure Agreement (NDA) they all loyally sign. The NDA is the steel box in CCP's faux democracy thought experiment. Sure, they will tell you that lots of useful things were discussed and concerns raised. But when you ask for real information about important stuff (i.e. not yet another tedious rebalance)  then the fountain of knowledge dries up with the NDA being the cited cause. So no means of observation and the CSM have a valid reason for not being accountable to their voters. Ergo, an undead zombie cat of an organisation

Now there are good reasons why CCP won't tell us stuff. They don't need a CSM to not tell us stuff though. They are quite capable of doing that themselves. That hardly adds value. And actually we don't need the CSM to not tell us stuff either. A point the player base collectively told them last year:

That's right. Only 22345 accounts (less people because of multiple accounts) voted for people to not tell us stuff last year. With the CSM summit coming up it looks like taking it to the next level and will not be telling us LIVE!

Of course, the CSM would say from within their steel box that I am missing the point and they are doing an excellent job helping CCP get things right. But CCP haven't been getting things right. Player activity went off a cliff with the Citadels Expansion (but no changes since so zero impact CSM). Pay to Win Omega, while implemented well, is looking like a dead cat bounce (mixing metaphors I know):

The initial honeymoon in attracting FTP new players is over and those figures are heading south too:

If this is excellent work, I would hate to see bad work. CCP have played the only card they had in their back pocket (FTP) at the expense of broader game development. It hasn't gone terribly but it hasn't worked. Maybe I am wrong (but I can't open to box to know) but something smells not excellent.

Of course, some of the CSM do occasionally reach out for information. They are not bad people. But they are not professionals either and it can go badly wrong when it isn't conducted well as this poor guy found out. CCP should be doing this assuming they are actually interested in this sort of feedback.

Fundamentally, the CSM was only good for the entertainment value it provided with all the backbiting and other tomfoolery.This year it hasn't even provided that and has become about as fun as paying inflated brokers fees. There is no justifiable reason for the CSM to exist now. There is no function that it does that couldn't be done by other established and likely more effective means. The CSM might not be dead but it is not alive either. Don't vote for it. It is time for both CCP and us the players to grow up and stop pissing around with pretend politics if we really want Eve to survive

Friday, 9 December 2016

CCP For Sale

The pieces of the jigsaw are beginning to come together. The pieces being, Eve going free to play, The silence of the routemap at EveVegas, the push for VR and of course the moving of CCP's corporate headquarters to London. The move to London was only ever about one thing. Finance. If it had been about a move to more efficient tax regime in Europe then Ireland would have been a better solution. London is for better or worse the financial heart of Europe. London is also experiencing a mergers and acquisition frenzy in the gaming industry. This is fuelled by money from China. This is in part due to the untended consequences resulting from the current Chinese administration. Money is looking for different homes than the traditional property and American bond markets - particularly post Trump. But also Virtual and Augmented reality is huge in China.

So the news today that CCP are for sale and have some potential buyers cannot be considered surprising. What would be surprising is  if a deal fails to materialise. It is a sellers market right now.

What does this mean for Eve? In the interim I would imagine CCP will not want to rock any boat until the deal is done. More longer term, I can't imagine EVE having any priority over CCP's VR products. However, depending who makes the deal, the pressure for Eve to be the cow that is constantly milked to fund VR development might be reduced. Interesting times. There is a quote about that from someone somewhere.

Saturday, 24 September 2016

Eve goes Free to Ship Spin

CCP's decision to add a formal Free to Play (F2P) element to Eve Online cannot really be considered to be a surprise. The move to commoditise Skill Points (SP) last year and the Tech 3 hardware uplift indicate the decision was made 24-18 months ago. It was only a matter of when and not if as I and others predicted.

As the proposal stands, it is not hugely detrimental to the game. However, CCP have never made transparency a high priority on this issue, so don't expect Alpha and Omega clones to be the end of the story. Expect gamma, delta, epsilon, zeta, eta,theta, iota, kappa, lambda, etc, etc, clones in the future would be my speculation. And I have not been wrong so far.

The timing is interesting. We are of course in the post Citadel expansion world. Remember one of the benefits of CCP returning to expansions was that it was supposed to give something more tangible that for CCP's marketing people to promote. But it has been catastrophic. Instead of increasing player engagement, player activity has gone done 25 -30%.

Again this was predictable and predicted. The announcements by CCP at fanfest showed that they had no intention of deviating from what they had done for the previous three years. Namely, pandering to a narrow cultural hegemony to the exclusion of everyone else. Unsurprisingly, the disenfranchised have left and found better things to do.

So now CCP had a choice. Not an easy one but a choice nonetheless. Either attempt to learn and recover from the Citadel fiasco, or go nuclear and press the F2P button they already had in their back pocket. As we know, they have gambled on F2P being the white knight and doubled down on the Citadel release being the correct way forward.

To sweeten the pill, there is a loyalty reward for those with active accounts. This comprises of:

  • The Gnosis exploration battlecruiser
  • The curious Apotheosis shuttle
  • A new SKIN designed for the Gnosis
  • A special edition armor suit and goggles set
Coincidently, the Chinese Serenity Server also has a loyalty reward for active accounts. Not because of it going F2P. That hasn't been announced yet and it may not need to be. It is because it is the Mid Autumn festival. So if you have a Serenity account you get:
  • Scorpion Valkyrie SKIN
  • 1 million plus Skill Points
  • 2 attribute remaps
  • 1 character resculpt
So the CCP Tranquility reward isn't that sweet when it comes down to it. If you were in two minds about keeping your account active, which one of those two rewards would be more persuasive?

I digress. With CCP now committed to F2P being a part of Eve will it improve its fortunes? Certainly there will be more people accessing the game. But if CCP's promotion is anything like the small gesture above it won't be as many as perhaps they would like. They need to sharpen their marketing game. Fundamentally though, they have to make the game worth playing and worth paying for. 

Making Eve F2P doesn't fix the underlying problems that has put the game in its current position where people are making the judgement that it isn't worth paying or playing. It just makes access to those problems easier. Put it this way. Paying for a trip to the dentist for root canal surgery isn't fun. A free trip to the dentist but with less anesthetic doesn't make the experience more fun. So with the absence of any other change in direction in the game development terms, F2P could become an embarrassing flop much like Dailies were where players unequivocally voted to ship spin rather than bother a belt rat. 

Tuesday, 19 July 2016

Blog Banter 77: If Eve was a Horse...

Blog Banter 77 - The Malaise

Is there a malaise affecting Eve currently? Blogs and podcasts are going dark and space just feels that little bit emptier. One suggestion is that there may be a general problem with the vets, especially those pre-Incarna and older, leaving and being replaced by newer players who are not as invested in the game. The colonists versus immigrants? Is this a problem? Are there others? Or is everything just fine and it's just another bout of summer "ZOMG EVE IZ DYING!"

Banter on.....

Its summer. Player activity dips so let's cue the "Eve is dying!" mantra along with similar tidings of doom. Situation normal then. Every year is the same. Except it isn't. CCP is approaching a fourth year of refreshing selected parts of Eve. The result? Active player count is the same or less than this time last year. Oh and last year was bad. Whoops. Neville Smit provides a decent analysis on his blog using the data from Eve Offline (see below).

The first thing to take away from this is that wars do not have a long term impact on player activity. The heightened activity caused by World War Bee has now vanished. They came, they pressed F1 and they left. We can now confidently say that the myth that Eve needs big wars to attract players is busted. While big wars don't harm the stats, those players will bugger off as soon as they have had their adrenaline fix or got over their mid life crisis.

And that is a bit awkward, because for the last three years CCP have focused their development almost exclusively on these players and there is at least another year of this to come. A year that will be wasted in my opinion. It is not as if industrial structures are going more defensible than citadels. Great for the wrecking machine posse but why ever build one in the first place? Then there is null. Null is as empty as it ever was despite the introduction of magic wands and rejigged super capitals. Even World War Bee was largely based from lowsec. The changes have failed.

So remove the War boom and what are you left with? A continuing underlying decline in player activity.

And this takes us into the realm of unintended consequences. While the game changes have been targeted to (unsuccessfully) benefit a few, their wider impact has been make the neglected state of the rest of the game worse. The ramifications of the citadel markets are a case in point. The markets are now a shambles and trade is down 40% on last month. Crest endpoints are broken and have rendered sites like Eve Central as largely useless. Player attempts to mitigate the regressive tax that purposely punishes the financially weakest players most has lead to offshoring and ghost orders (until recently) which has in turn turned Jita into a husk filled largely with remote orders. It is dev sponsored vandalism without doubt, but it benefits nobody apart from a very few Fortizar owners.

The effects go beyond Jita. I logged into Hek a couple of times last week. There were between 60 to 80 people in the system. In the recent past you would have expected double or even triple that. From what remains of the market it is clear its days as a viable trading hub are numbered. Even the scammers seem to have given up and rats do know when to leave a sinking ship. I've heard its the same for Rens too. It follows that the networks and activities that have built up around these hubs will join the fall into irrelevance as a result of the new economic order. 

All this is to satisfy CCP's myopic neoliberal design dogma that insists High Sec must be outsourced to a few absentee landlords. The alternative being punitively taxed if failing to comply with the ideology. It is a strategy that has failed in the real world and it is a strategy that is failing in Eve. The big irony being that Iceland was one of the first countries to realise it after they got badly burnt. This is just the Citadel fiasco. 

There are plenty of other examples to choose from but lets move on because I am sure you don't want me droning on about Skill Points, the CSM, Null Sec statics, etc, etc ad infinitum. 

So this is the malaise. Eve has a long term dedicated player-base that CCP largely ignores. It also has a short term fly by night vocal player base that CCP are keen to overindulge regardless of the impact on the rest. Consequently the long term player base continues to haemorrhage away and new players find it hard to gain a strong enough foothold to cut through the cliquishness. Try forming a corp in highsec as a new player. 

This isn't news. It is how any number of generic games have died and will die in the future. CCP seem determined to follow that script, or more likely as the vacuous Fanfest Keynote demonstrated, they no longer have the gumption when it comes to either the vision, awareness, capability or capacity needed to do anything about it. So Eve is dying. The debate is really about whether it will be a gentle descent or if numbers will fall off the side of a cliff at some point. CCP's future decisions or lack of them will determine the rate of decline. So if Eve was a horse... well go figure. 

Friday, 8 April 2016

SP intentions becoming more clear

So I have been banging on about how CCP's intentions on the use of Skill Points has been less than transparent for quite some time now. This was because it was clear there just had to more to decoupling Skill Points from subscriptions to justify the Dev time and from what has been tried on Serenity in China. 

If you recall, I said quite early on when skill injectors/extractors were first announced that SP would be used as a prize at some point. Using a key resource such as SP that is harder to obtain is a common ploy in many games as a means of boosting player participation, particularly in Free to Play (F2P) games. More commonly such resources are awarded in special PVE events, however on Eve in China it has been used as a daily payment for simply logging on in recent months.  

Team Size Matters were the team that were responsible for the original SP project and it was pretty apparent from the complete absence of anything from the CSM winter minutes that they were still working on it. I raised it with a couple of CSM reps but they feigned deafness.

Well finally, CCP have come out into the open and made the following announcement
I'm here to give you guys a heads up that sometime early next week a small daily activity reward feature will be hitting Singularity and will hopefully be making its way to TQ sometime just after Citadel.
As you guys surely know, having people in game and in space is great and we want to start promoting and rewarding activity a little more directly. The version of the feature we are planning to deploy first will be a simple 10,000 skill point reward that a character will receive the first time they kill an NPC ship every 22 hours. The skillpoints will go into your unallocated pool to be used however you like.
You will find the status of your daily skill boost in the Opportunities info panel and you will also receive notifications to let you know when it becomes available.
That's it for now. If this goes well we hope to expand in several ways, but more on that later!
Feedback appreciate as always,
CCP Rise for Team Size Matters
So basically login, shoot an NPC rat, dock up and you get 10,000 SP. It's not the worst thing and you still have the choice not to do it. But in my current state of mind around citadels it is just another piece of coercion so I find it hard to be enthusiastic about. That said, if it brings more players into the game and encourages them to participate more then that is probably a good thing overall. The other observation I would make is that although Eve might not go F2P, everything you would need to make it F2P is still gradually being put in place 

Monday, 28 March 2016

Blog Banter 73 - The Other Eve Game?

“So soon(tm) we will have Eve Online, Valkyrie, Gunjack and the as yet untitled FPS to replace DUST514/Project Legion. Are we missing anything else? Are then any other games CCP should be looking into? Colony building simulators in the style of Sim City or Rimworld. Should it be on a grander scale link Civilisation or Stronghold Kingdoms. How about RTS games ala Command and Conquer. Survival games such as Rust? Planet based combat like World of Tanks? Would you like to see other game types expanding the Eve Universe or should CCP stick to what it knows?

This is the gig I signed up to when I thought Blog Banter would be save me the effort of thinking of something to write about. And then the above crashed through my inbox. What should be the other Eve Game? Eek!

OK, let’s dive in. There a couple of ways we could approach this. One way would be to take the blue sky, anything is possible and the money no object approach. Who know’s, I might even come up with a half decent idea but in all likelihood it would be undeliverable. So perhaps we need to reflect on where CCP is currently before we get ahead if ourselves. A bit if a reality check is needed.


The really interesting aspect about this question is it is probably not the sort of thing you would ask of your typical AAA game company. They will already know what to produce next and that will depend on how their current titles have performed or whatever the opposition are having success or failure with. Alternatively, a small Independent company would have a very firm and passionate idea of the dream they are trying to bring to fruition as CCP did when they started out. CCP is not in either camp now. Often classified as “boutique” it has an organisational maturity of a long established company but has yet achieve an established money drenched hit beyond Eve Online. Until this year of course.

After some painful false starts with World of Darkness and to a lesser extent DUST514, CCP is back in the news again for the right reasons. Gunjack and Valkyrie as games could probably be regarded as a success already and you can sense the confidence returning to CCP. It is good to see. However, their ultimate success will depend on the wider adoption of VR by the public and that is harder to determine beyond the current  hype. It has the potential to be defining moment for CCP but it also has the potential to be a damp squib. 

Although blindingly obvious, the other thing to bear in mind (and it often gets lost in the enthusiasm) is that games cost money to make. Who knew? CCP have received external investment for VR projects. But this money will likely be assigned to the Project Arena (and here) work along with Valkyrie and Gunjack until they are in a position to be profitable in their own right. CCP have also already stated they are working on a PC FPS to build on what they learnt the hard way with DUST514. I believe there will be an announcement in Fanfest in regards to that. The development for this will presumably come from the profits of Eve Online. When you add the ongoing costs of Eve Online itself (TQ and Serenity) then it is likely there won’t be gazillions of dollars lying around to invest in a new game. Depending upon how exposed CCP feel to a slow take up on the VR products, this might be further squeezed pot might be further because they would want to keep something in reserve.

In this context “The Other Eve Game” (OEG) has to be cheap and chips and probably not VR based (at least initially)  in order to hedge bets and keep costs down. Despite these constraints, we are not necessarily left with Eve Tetris being the only option. CCP has a lot of assets that can be reused or can be elaborated on (as they have done with Valkyrie and Gunjack). If the OEG is set in an Sci Fi context, a lot of the creative work has already been done or is available on tap. CCP also has the monetization platforms in place that can be now be extended to any new titles they choose to produce. An alternative possibility is that the OEG could be a part of the development of an existing game or project. A project that has sufficient functionality to be game in its own right but also enriches - or at least shares code with a bigger project.

The Other Eve Game

With the caveats in place, what should the Other Eve Game be? For me it boils down to two things. One is practical, the other is more a personal wish and probably less viable. 

Practical Suggestion - Android/IOS PVP arena (1v1 at the Sun)

Other game developers think this is viable and CCP should really get in before someone steals their thunder. Gunjack has shown that CCP can develop an excellent mobile product. Eve players complain they have to roam for ages to find some PvP. This game would offer existing players instant  gratification plus and more importantly cater for the wider handheld/mobile audience who don’t care about Eve Online but do want to shoot stuff while they are on the bus. This could be linked to Eve Online for those that have a subbed/plexed account and potentially played within Eve too at some point. If CCP don’t do this, they will be kicking themselves in years to come.

Impractical Suggestion

At this point I have to admit to my second most favorite game of all time. A game I would play now if they still made it. It was not a popular game by most standards but it was recognised as a classic and more importantly was the only other game that set my heart racing and made me break out in a cold sweat in the way that Eve can do.

The genre of the game - survival horror is likely to put it out of the running straight away. CCP were badly bitten by World of Darkness. But on the other hand, the best way of dealing with falling off a bicycle is to get straight back on it. Anyway, I believe putting my second favourite game in a Sci Fi context like Eve would be extraordinary - and at least I would be able to play it again in some way. The game? Depending on where you are located it has one of two names. In Europe it was know as Project Zero but more widely it was called Fatal Frame. Now, change the setting from a decaying haunted japanese mansion to let’s say, a deserted Blood Raider complex or Jovian outpost or even a ‘haunted’ wing of an NPC station (open the door!)  and use an Empyrean equivalent of the Camera Obscura and I think you are onto something. Marinate it in lashings of lore and it becomes the Other Eve Game. Some thought would be needed on the multiplayer aspect but that could actually enhance the game. While I doubt it would be an AAA blockbuster, it would beat ship spinning and would certainly be boutique. And that is CCP we know.

And by the way...

And by the way, if CCP were to ever consider integrating its portfolio of games together in some way, maybe just maybe Walking in Stations has come of age? Imagine you drop off some loot at a station, go to Captain's Quarters, go through the door and head to a station community area. While looking through the brawling crowd you see some doors. Words like Eve Online, Valkyrie and MindClash are written on them perhaps. But we might be more interested in the activities going on in the room rather than going through the doors. Nah, CCP wouldn’t want to do that. Would they?

Friday, 18 March 2016

Pretend Eve going mobile

Update 26/3/2016: Seems like the Video clips below have now been made private. So I guess you have to take my word for the striking resemblance the game had to Eve. I can only speculate as to why the videos were made private.

Just a quick one today. This is probably one for CCP's lawyers. Bam Stoker put up post on reddit that caught my attention. Because the post is descending into Reddit oblivion I thought I would give it some exposure. Basically what it shows is a video footage of a proposed game that looks somewhat familiar. Take a look and see if it you spot any resemblances.

Or maybe this one:

and if you a still struggling, try this one:

Not a subtle is it? Digging a bit further I came across the following review from TouchArcade. They seem to have spoken to the 'developers' Blackjack Studio "who are working pretty hard on the idea of bringing something like EVE Online to mobile."  No kidding. The interview was held as part of the coverage of the Game Developers Conference (GDC) 2016 conference in San Francisco on March 14th-18th. This is not a small event. CCP had three speakers there. The fact that Blackjack were there and seeking press attention is significant. One wonders if CCP noticed it.

As to who Blackjack is, it is hard to tell. They have a nominal Facebook presence, The game itself has a Chinese UI but my clumsy Baidu and Youku skills couldn't find anything. There is no mention of them at the Chinese GDC conference either so they may not be from the mainland. (Singapore or Taiwan perhaps?)

The idea of Eve on a mobile is not new of course. We have Gunjack. But it is not Eve Online even though it draws from the Eve universe. Some people have asked for Project Discovery to become available on mobile devices and you could see how that would appeal. The technology in mobile devices now probably means that it is near enough viable. If "Second Galaxy" is anything like legitimate (I would have my doubts) and gains any sort of following, then maybe CCP might want to watch this. Either that or send a cease and desist.    

Saturday, 12 March 2016

In search of a carrot

The Citadel guru, CCP Yitterburn has listened, juggled the figures, and re-presented the player logon taxes. OK that might be a little harsh and they are definitely more mellow. But CCP Yitterburn has reserved the possibility of reinstating the original proposal at some point in the future. So the principle remains. The "choice" CCP present is to either be taxed heavily by NPC stations or submit to the gameplay of the large ingame groups. 

Consequently, if you wish to remain independent then it is likely if not certain that you will be paying more ISK for the privilege . It then follows that to make up for the additional costs incurred, you will have to spend more time on revenue earning activities rather than purely fun activities. There are no new benefits being introduced to offset this. So in effect it is a new activity tax. Perhaps my imagination is running a little hot but it feels like being forced to pay and undergo dental surgery before going out to have a meal with friends. The risk is that unless you are one of those weird people that actually enjoy dental surgery, there comes a point when pavlovian conditioning kicks in and you just stop going out for a meal.

Now I don't want to believe this is CCP's intention, but I am struggling to see how it isn't. I was a Citadel enthusiast but where is the carrot? To my mind it just feels like CCP are a little to desperate to force citadels on people. If a citadel was a new ship - which it basically is, plus services and minus movement, then CCP wouldn't nerf every other ship in the game to make it a win button and then limit who is allowed to own it and benefit from it to a select few. Imagine the outcry if they did. But this is what Highsec Citadels appear to be. In the end, everything in Eve fundamentally boils down to the Highsec markets. Citadel/NPC station activity taxes will effect everyone but only a few will benefit. (to the extent they conquer Eve if Gevlon's maths works out.)

At this point, I should be coming up with a startling alternative whizzy way that would fix everything Citadel. That is the constructive thing to do. But even if I could, it just seems CCP are progressing on the basis that they are incontrovertibly correct. Maybe they are, but I don't see their vision or how I get additional joy instead of additional trips to the dentist. I genuinely want to understand this. I suppose it is possible my playstyle is just incompatible with the way Eve is envisaged by CCP in the future. It would be disappointing obviously but helpful to know nonetheless.

More widely, I wonder how many people are actually aware of what is coming. The highsec natives are notable for their lack of participation in the various Eve forums. There are many reasons for this, be it language, casual playstyle or whatever. They are the sort of people who don't vote for the CSM because they have never been aware of its existence. I worry many people are going to be in for a rude awakening when Citadels land. Quite how that pans out ought to be a worry to CCP because their subs could well outweigh those of the Hisec market Citadel owners.

Wednesday, 9 March 2016

An Anarcho Syndicalist in #tweetfleet

So it has been an interesting couple of days . For those of you afflicted by my tweets in #tweetfleet you can now relax as normal service is now resumed. However the whole story behind what motivated me to do that, and the things I learnt from doing might be interesting to some of you. It certainly surprised me.

I'll try and get the motivation for doing this out the way quite quickly because that is straight forward. I have come to loathe the CSM and haven't been shy about saying it. It should be torched for the reasons I laid out in Crossing Zebras back in January. It is only my opinion and I hadn't told people to vote or not vote or indeed shove a list of endorsements down anyone's throat for them to blindly follow. If turkeys want to vote for Christmas that is entirely their choice and one I respect. I'll just enjoy the "I told you so" meal later was my thinking. However it didn't work out that way.

Of all the Eve fora, Twitter is probably the most light hearted as well as being informative. It is the one I engage in most. When the CSM election started, there was naturally a lot of noise and even some excitement about it. But the tone quickly changed to one of calling people dumb and negative for not voting. Even CCP got in on the act. To be fair, much of it was tongue in cheek but the case for not voting is genuine and most people won't vote. Calling the majority of the playerbase dumb, is well just dumb. It was a voice that needed to be heard and I arrogantly decided to try and convey it.

Many will know I am an ingame carebear. Some might know I role play a closet anarcho-syndicalist . I won't bore you with why but if  someone accuses me of being pro or anti some group or other they are rather missing the point. I am anti ALL groups. Happy to work with people but never to work for people. While we are both refuseniks in our own way, when someone compares me with Gevlon, as has happened on a couple of times, we really are on opposite sides of the spectrum. Anyway, I mention this because this became the basis behind my anti CSM tweetrage. For those that missed them I give you a selection below:

You get the picture. Not exactly Marx's dialectic but he didn't have to contend with a limit of 142 characters. What then happened was interesting. What started as a grumpy guy sperging turned into more of a social observation. Most people ignored me initially for it was the utterings of a madman and hoping I would go away eventually. I expected this and I also expected to lose followers. But the opposite happened and I gained some. Nothing spectacular but more people were switched on than were switched off.

As I ploughed on people started to challenge me both seriously and in fun.  But they were almost entirely from a very select group - CSM candidates and non aligned ones at that. Now they obviously have a vested interest. They are struggling to pick up scraps of non block votes. But the only counter argument they could put of any merit was that a non vote was vote for the blocks. But STV guarantees the Imperium and PL are going to get seats regardless so point is moot. But interestingly it was a popular view yet no one is campaigning in the manner I briefly did to appeal to the anti block vote. In fact most of the candidates seem to be talking to each other in the #CSM slack channel rather than campaigning to the electorate. I am really not sure where this complacency comes from. At no point did anyone defend the CSM as an institution or address the contrived points I was making. So most people just don't care (and will likely not vote) or they agree (and will likely not vote). No one is selling the CSM.

Step in CCP...
Hmm.. so why didn't they do that this year? CCP Guard comes to the rescue!

Not an overwhelming response and unfortunately it turns out people are more interested in a pencils and pens than the CSM!

Then things really got weird... or should it be desperate?

So much for putting the case for the CSM as an institution then. There was nothing for it then but to do CCP's and the CSM candidates job for them. I went for the jugular.
You will notice that CCP Fozzie deleted the message I retweeted. That particular tweet had been an extremely provocative message that directly undermined the role, work and purpose of the current CSM. The CSM complained bitterly about it yet it remained. Up until yesterday that is, when my stupid little campaign allowed him the opportunity him to reflect and delete it to replace it with this:
At little victory and my work is now done. The CSM has hope if attitudes change. But the onus is on you candidates. If I can achieve something - (a little something but something the CSM never achieved) with just 4 days ranting why can't you? Stop talking to each other get out the and make a fuss. Fight for your game and win the respect of your peers.

Finally, a shoutout to Nosy Gamer who was almost the only person to tackle me full on and do it with humour. Vive La Revolution!

Sunday, 6 March 2016

CCP HQ to move to London? Gunjack bundled free on S7?

I'm surprised no one has picked this up yet so I thought I might as well run with it According to an interview done by the Icelandic VISIR magazine with CCP CEO Hilmar Veigar Pétursson (CCP Hilmar) on the 26th of February, CCP are about to open an office in London 'next' summer. I am not sure if that means this summer (as in the next one coming) 2016, or next year's summer in 2017. My instinct is it is this year because of the current Senior Producer job CCP are advertising and the fact that CCP Denebola, CCP's Chief Customer Officer is already based there.

Hillmar says (via google translate), "This is primarily designed as a marketing offices. So we have a small development team there. We are a development company and wish that all our offices are with DNA, too, " So marketing offices in London with a sprinkling of developers. But he then goes on to say that he will move to London and run CCP from there and a new director will be hired to cover Iceland to run projects that nominally he had covered. So maybe that explains the General Manager role being advertised in Iceland. He continues by saying this is a consolidation of CCP's world activities closer to Iceland, which is a nice spin considering the audience of this piece and that the Iceland operation will be strengthened by having its own director.

On top of this we can add the new directors that came with the $30 million dollar VR investment who probably don't wish to leg it to Iceland. So it is all gravitating towards CCP setting up a global corporate HQ in London alongside CCP Denebola's new marketing department. What this means for some of the other locations in CCP's world empire I am not sure. You would think there might be some consolidation of jobs but as I have highlighted in my Serenity posts, CCP's marketing has been virtually non existent in comparison to its Chinese partner Tiancity. So there may not be many marketing posts to consolidate in reality. Certainly there was a bit of a purge with the closure of the San Francisco office back in 2014 and the departure of the then chief marketing officer David Reid.

I'm not sure how much many of San Francisco's former responsibilities were taken on by Atlanta if any. Now CCP are back to making a profit and with Eve Valkyrie and potentially NotLegion to consider, perhaps they can turn their back on those dark days. And it has to be a good thing if CCP have decided to take marketing seriously, not just for Eve but for the other games it has.

Finally, another piece of news that also seems to have been missed - Gunjack is to be bundled free with pre orders of the Samsung S7 and S7 edge. This is pretty big. The S7 will have a far greater public reach than Valkyrie on the Rift. I don't know what deals have been cut but it must surely be regarded as another success story for CCP. More longer term, Samsung, like Apple and HTC and Nokia before that are becoming yesterday's men in Asia. CCP needs to talk to Huawei and Xiaomi about their VR plans. Xiaomi (disclosure: my last 3 phones have been Xiaomi) have already announced they have VR plans.

So you see this is why the CSM should be torched. Idiots like me end up covering the news because everyone else is besotted with the nonsense. 

Saturday, 5 March 2016

Updated: More Serenity Merchandise..with a twist

Merchandise and Eve are not two words you are likely to see together. Getting a merchandising deal together has so far proved to be beyond the wit of CCP. We were promised something at Eve Vegas which wasn't very overwhelming but that seems so have fallen through. We were then told the New Year would herald a new beginning and now presumably we are into fanfest territory for any sort of announcement. So maybe by Eve Vegas this year you might be able to buy a Amarr keyring. But then again, maybe not. 

Meanwhile in China, Eve's partners Tiancity don't mess about and you can actually buy official merchandise there. I bought a Laptop Backpack late last year for example. In fact, their whole approach to marketing has been innovative. Now the Chinese New Year is finally over a new promotion has just been announced. This one like the last one is a something that the CCP Iceland crew fully know about if only because it needed Dev time. I'll come to that bit later, but first let's look at the latest product that is being offered.

First thing to say it that "Terrans Force" is a brand name of a Taiwanese Laptop manufacturer well known in Asia - sort of an Alienware tribute band but probably more powerful and cheaper. They are sponsoring and selling this Eve product. But what is it?

Its a limited edition commemorative stamp album. Actually a bit more than stamps..metal stamps

and 3D postcards

and envelopes

and there are some medals too.

Clearly a lot of work has gone into creating this. It costs about $90 or £60. BUT THAT IS NOT ALL. I mentioned the Iceland dev link. Well in some way this promotion appears to be  integrated into Eve Online itself. I am indebted to @darkblad for pointing out an asset he found on Schildwall Playground. What he found was this:

The rough translation I could do isn't that reliable, but talks about "Terrans force(future humanity) have been given official rights", and then "momentoes for future humans", that "witnesses every captain's emotional journey through the infinite universe filled with stars" and "There's never been a memento like this before and it's of great value to collectors" The button in German says "Show Market Details". I had a look on SISI last night but could see this but there have been several builds since this first appeared so it may have been removed now that it is on Serenity.

So this poses an interesting tinfoil question. Is it or will it be possible to buy a virtual object in the game market that can then somehow be turned into a real and tangible object - like a medal lets say - that then gets sent to you for you collection? Possibly they are dual promotions and have no hard connection whatsoever. Either way, the Eve players in China are continuing to get a much better set of goodies than we are.

Darkblad has kindly provided more information about this and the skins I talked about in SP Serenity gifts in comments resulting from his probing. Top guy! 

Thursday, 3 March 2016

Planned changes to NPC / Citadel taxes and services

So as the heading says the planned changes are out and CCP are seeking feedback. Take time to read them because they will impact everyone. I sort of covered this in my CZ article back in November
It seems I wasn't wrong. While the figures might change a bit following this consultation, the thrust is the same as it was in November. CCP have decided to press the nuclear button and force players out of NPC stations. The crowbar CCP are choosing to use is to make NPC stations stupidly expensive. CCP has thus thrown down the gauntlet. I am not a fan. After all the player interaction it basically boils down to financial bullying. Play Citadels or else. 

The headline lunatic proposal you will hear is it will cost of 5 million ISK to operate a jump clone from an NPC station. The justification is this is the cost of the service the citadel owner will face so in order to force you to use player owned citadels. This is so dumb it must surely change. But there are other planned changes that continue in the same vein. 

Offices: Unlike NPC's, there will be no office limit in Citadels so this contrivance allows NPC's to be undercut. 

Medical Clones: Remarkably stay the same for NPC's and Citadels

Jump Clones: To be 5m ISK in NPC stations to enable them to be undercut by Citadels. 

Reprocessing: NPC taxes are being revised and Citadel owners can undercut them. 

Compression: CCP are planning to merge this service with the reprocessing service module.

Market: The line goes: "To create an environment more competitive for Citadels, we plan on increasing the transaction tax to 2.5% and the broker's fee to 5-6%. Players trading in citadels will still receive the transaction tax, but the broker's fee will be at the complete discretion of the owner." So another contrivance to make citadels look good. And of course, only groups that can afford L or XL citadels will be allowed to run a market.

So the carrot is firmly aimed the large groups because only they can afford the L and XL Citadels. They rightfully will also dictate who can and can't have access to their services. There will be only a tiny proportion of players that actually get the full benefit of this - namely, the small population of citadel owners. The stick? Well, the only way a  'normal' player can compete is to 'play' with (by joining an established alliance) or get permission from the Citadel bosses. Solo players or small emerging groups (who will now remain small) are being left to hang.

I personally would hate the scenario where I am coerced into a situation where other players can effectively dictate how I play Eve. CCP are asking for feedback so things might change. Let's hope they do. But so far, the whole top down approach to this design process completely fails to acknowledge the little guys. The Spring Citadel release is increasingly  playing to a very small gallery and there are some rather awkward consequences coming CCP's way if they fail to wake up to that.

Final thought: While I might be unimpressed with the direction Citadels are going in, this is just a small aspect of Eve. People make Eve what it is today. Devs certainly play a role, but players and the communities they participate in give it life. When times get hard we have been known to rally round and help each other out. In that context, you might be aware that Rixx Javix is in a hard place right now. He has certainly given more to Eve than most. If you feel you would like to understand more and help him out then check out his blog.

Sunday, 28 February 2016

Does one swallow make a summer?

It's like waiting for a London bus. You wait ages for CCP to provide some basic life signs in their relationship with the CSM and then suddenly they spew a plethora of blogs, tweets and minutes at you. 

The summit has been declared a productive success. As the various CSM members - well those that bothered to attend, descended down the aircraft steps, clutching drafts of the minutes, peace in our time between the CSM and CCP was declared. Neville Chamberlain will be so proud of them.

To be fair, it is good that the summit did take place, even if it was in a reduced form. It is also good that CCP Seagull finally put words of support behind it. Something she hasn't felt disposed to do since before Eve Vegas. But does it actually mean anything? This time last year CCP Seagull and the CSM9 were saying the same sage things.  The CSM is really really useful and if we can only just sort out its purpose and tweak the communication issues it will all be fine.

It wasn't. The first 6 weeks of CSMX were serenaded with the sound of silence because setting up CSM/CCP comms channel were not given priority.  There then followed a couple of months where some work seemed to happen - I did participate in the Wormhole/structures chats for example, and there was a summit. After that there was the capital ships leak at which point CSMX was effectively shut down by the Devs. Now we are told it is all ok now so we might get a few more weeks work out of CMSX. But that is it. Out of a 12 month term we got maybe 4-5 months representation. The rest was filled with finger pointing, backbiting and sulking.

CSM XI won't be fine either. Someone will leak. Some devs will take their ball home to circumvent it and drama will ensue. We still be no wiser about what the CSM is for. Actually, no it be will worse than that. Eve Updates doesn't tell us any more than we knew 9 months ago. Citadels in spring and then nothing. So even if the CSM became a world leading institution there is no way to know who is the most appropriate CSM candidates would be. Low Sec, Industrialist, more Null Sec? Who knows.

So no, good as the summit might have been we only have words and very tired words at that.  I am not going to vote for it and I no have metrics to gauge which candidates I should endorse or deserve to be fed into this futile exercise.  

Monday, 15 February 2016

Snakes and Ladders

The relationship you have with any online game is unique to yourself. You pay for a service and in return you receive an experience that is hopefully engaging. The manner in which it engages you down to your own individual peculiarities. When a game hits the spot the experience can become passionate. Something to fight for. And when, as they always do, a game starts to deviate away from that spot it can be similarly emotional. You have devoted time and perhaps money to a partner. You may even have a sense of entitlement because you have been loyal afterall. But in the cold light of day, this is to misread the relationship. The game company values your custom if it has any business guile. But not to the extent that it depends on you. You are at the end of the day just another data point on their spreadsheet. They would love to keep you on board but devoting time and energy to special snowflake customers is not necessarily best investment of time and resource. Making and selling games is a business not a romance.

CCP and Eve Online are no different of course. The product they make is more boutique than most and is an acquired taste perhaps. It is a mature game and has a small following that isn't growing any younger. It is ticking over. For the future, there are high hopes for Eve Valkyrie and Gunjack hasn't caused them any harm, bu the closure of DUST just leaves CCP with Eve Online as a consistent revenue source. A revenue source that not only has to fund the development of Eve Online, but also any new projects - such as the DUST replacement. The investors in Eve's VR commitment - which maybe more than just Valkyrie and Gunjack will naturally want a return on their investment. If the VR projects fail to deliver then it will be Eve Online players that foot the bill. Now I hope that they will succeed but it is a strategy seeking to pursue an untested immature market. There could be great rewards but there is no doubting the risk. But then again it is not as if CCP has much alternative. Living off Eve Online alone is not going to be sustainable forever. 

This poses a dilemma. To break the single point of failure - the dependency on Eve Online, CCP has to invest in new projects. But to invest in new projects, CCP has to sweat their only consistent revenue source to find the investment funds. The very act of doing that could hasten the demise of Eve Online and in the worst scenario bring down everything like a house of cards. It is a difficult tightrope to walk. But the walk has definitely started with Skill Point Trading.

Now as I have said before, I am not a happy bunny when it comes to Skill Point Trading. Magnus or Inga (or any other made up name) from CCP marketing wouldn't understand why though. They way they see Eve is like a game of Snakes and Ladders. All they have done is allowed you to bribe your way past some of the snakes. Now Eve is obviously a lot more complicated than that but I genuinely enjoyed the constraints and finding ways around what I couldn't do and planning ahead for the day when I could be able to do things. Those challenges - which for a solo player are big challenges - are now gone. So much for the snakes.

I don't think Magnus and Inga from marketing have finished either. Flushed with the perceived success of Skill Point Training they will be eager to squeeze more money out of Eve Online. If Eve becomes a Free to Play plus Premium Player game as I believe it will, then in effect as a premium player I get to pay to go up all the ladders as well. Free players wouldn't get SP unless they buy it or grind it, whereas Premium players get SP as part of their sub as they do now. But the monetisation will be more efficient so well done Magnus and Inga. But a game of Snakes and Ladders becomes a game with no snakes and no ladders. Very dull so why play it?

Thursday, 11 February 2016

Ups and Downs

As in life, in Eve you have good days and bad days. This is how it should be. If everything was perfect all of the time it would be like living in "The Truman Show". It would get stale quickly. This post should be considered in that context. Not every day has to be a good day and I have been lucky to have had an extended run of the good. But lately, I seem to have that feeling where I am the only sober person at the party. You could argue the opposite could be true and it is me that is drunk and everyone else is sober I suppose. Either way, I feel somewhat disconnected from Eve lately.

This isn't a whine about CCP specifically. Other tiresome and disappointing Eve related factors that I won't bore with you play a part. However, it is fair to say the Skill Point trading fest we have been through over the last couple of days hasn't helped if only because it has given me cause to reflect. But first to cover off the introduction of Skill Point trading. It has  has clearly been popular. If I had needed the ISK there was a killing to be made. It was astonishing what people were paying for Skill Extractors and the Plex volumes to fund this binge were not trivial if other peoples estimates are correct.

I don't know the exact Plex figures and I don't know how long the party will continue, so I can only speculate on the potential long term impact on the Eve economy. The price of Plex will be interesting though. There will be more PLEX in the economy which should in theory lead to a downward trend in price. But there is another aspect to PLEX's intrinsic value that has irrevocably changed. PLEX at its more basic level provided game time. In the past, game time was the only way to acquire skill points other than buying a character from the Bazaar. Not now though. So assuming the maths work out, you could choose to buy just one months game time plus 2 months worth of skills from the market instead. Those who Plexed just to train alts might not be doing so in the future. So possibly a reduced demand for PLEX in addition to surplus introduced by this weeks rush to get/sell skills. To be honest, I don't know how the maths actually do work out, but even if it is only notional, the intrinsic value of a PLEX has been debased by this change. If that has any real value effect at all, it wont be a positive one assuming CCP don't intervene into the market.

Meanwhile, in a bittersweet moment my two characters in training both reached level V on the respective skills they had been training for three weeks. In the past, it was a significant moment. Now it is just a notch on the bedpost that can be simply resolved by throwing ISK at the problem. It is a de-motivational feeling but I accept this is probably a minority view.

As to the future, we were given another citadels dev blog by CCP. This talked about rigs and modules for the most part but also went into details around fuelling the beasts. I am excited about these in general. But what really grates is that the medium citadels won't have market services. So essentially solo players and small corps are being explicitly excluded from this game-play aspect for reasons unknown. CCP have never justified it and the CSM member I spoke to about it never got back to me. Either they don't know, aren't allowed to say, choose not to say or are being ignored by CCP.

Sort of related to this was a translation of an interview given by CCP Seagul on Reddit. It was a very good interview and she is a fascinating person. But when she says "My role is much more making sure the players have the tools to make what they want with" well the aspiration is being selective when it comes to citadel markets. Some players will have a better toolset than others. And that is perhaps that is why I have this hopefully temporary lack of engagement. I am beginning to feel I am playing Eve despite the game and not because of it. I don't want it to be easier or harder. But I don't want to be forced or at least constrained into a particular play-style just like every other game either.

Anyway, enough of the negative, more positively I have found a new ship to play with! Vets will of course scorn it as they did my love affair with the Echelon. If you have been following, a week or so back after my ganking misfortune I ended up buying a heap of Prowlers. The more I think about it the more I think it was a buy sale put up as a sell sale. But no one has ever contacted me about it. Anyway, I am still selling these things selectively at different markets. That means ferrying them from Jita and then flying back. On the return leg I can buy something I can fly and make a quick profit in Jita. This has included things like Astero's, Zephyr's, Leopards and so on. It was then I came across a Primae.

Originally issued exclusively in 2010 way before my time. It is bonkers like the Echelon but actually useful. Well a little bit useful. But it only cost 7m ISK. I was going to sell it but since I am still perfecting my PI colony knowledge before I head into a wormhole. I thought I could use it for its intended purpose such as it is. It has a PI hold and a Command Centre Hold as well as a cargo hold. It only has four low slots. Because some opportunist is bound to think of it as a killboard trophy due to its rarity I put hardeners and tungsten plates on it so that it might hold out until Concord arrives. But it is not worth much and won't carry much, so if it explodes it won't be the worst that ever happened. In its favour, it is quite nippy and saves me dragging out the Orca. As long as I keep finding little gems like the Primea hidden away in Eve there is a good chance I will keep on playing it.

Monday, 8 February 2016

Skill Trading Launch and Offers

Skill Extractors are going to be available for purchase from tomorrow. There has been a fair amount of debate about the costs for these things. The perception seems to be that they are high although I am not sure I agree. I think the emotion is due in part from the way expectations were raised by CCP. They were never going to be cheap, However, in classic marketing style CCP told us we had a problem we didn't know we had. But that was ok because here is the solution to the problem we didn't know we had. The solution called Skill Trading. Many people bought  into that.

So now we are all grateful to CCP for being good to us and especially the newbros. Grateful until they reveal the price. A price that appears to be neither good for us or newbros. Assuming of course you can actually figure out what the price actually is.To me this is the bigger problem. When you factor in the various ways you could buy Skill Extractors in the future then the cost is far from transparent. Or at least the optimal cost is. Adding in the additional promotions and discounts makes it  more complicated again. So it is hard to establish what the cost really is and whether it is value for ISK/Money/Aurum/Plex/Fedos.. I think only UK mobile phone contracts are more complicated. Anyway, there is a dev blog out describing the opportunity and choice we undeserving capsuleers have been given. 

As a side note, the statement:

"If you are looking at renewing your subscription, our offers on 3, 6 and 12 month subscriptions now include free Skill Extractors for a limited time"

brought a wry smile. I renewed one of my accounts for six months last week and therefore missed out on the never to be missed introductory offer.. Now I care little about the extractors because I don't intend to sell my SP and the extractor trade will be as manipulated as the plex market is. I am also highly skeptical about where this is going. So I will steer clear of them. But I have learnt one lesson. I won't be renewing that account again for more than one month in advance just in case there is another never to be missed introductory offer for whatever else CCP are planning. 

More widely the raised expectations and subsequent disappointment amongst some of the players will keep simmering. It will be hard to put the expectation genie back in the bottle. So now CCP have a problem they didn't know they had. A simple consistent and transparent cost might be a good start.

Friday, 5 February 2016

Serenity SP Gifts

I have waxed lyrical about Skill Point trading since it was first announced just before Eve Vegas. I'm not going to plough up that debate again because it is going to happen regardless. My existing concern has been and still remains that it is a trojan horse for the introduction of F2P or some other feature yet to be announced. Now that isn't necessarily a bad thing in itself if it brings new players to the game and makes CCP's profits more robust.

The issue as I see it is existing players are being encouraged to mess with their skills without necessarily being given all the facts. The skill points I buy once the February release is shipped might be worthless in say 6 months time because CCP announce the next phase which manipulates the supply and/or the cost of SP.

On the surface, I might appear a bit paranoid and obsessive about this. The reason I am deeply skeptical of CCP motivation is in part due to the way this was announced and that SP Trading alone doesn't seem  to justify the time spent on it. The other part is I try to follow what is happening in China on the Eve Serenity server. The China instance of Eve is interesting. It doesn't have the history of Tranquility so in a way there are less taboo areas for their partners - Tiancity- to steer clear of. It does seem that CCP are trying out ideas in China that could be targeted at Tranquility in the future.

Eve China had a fairly disastrous start because the local gaming culture was to RMT the hell out of it. The game was essentially reset and players were encouraged to return with hefty bribes of Skill Points. I mention all this because CCP/Tiancity are now handing out Skill Points again for a Chinese New Year promotion. I took a google translated screenshot below:

 You can find the chinese link here

There is also a cool video on Youku:

So it is clear that in the right circumstances CCP are quite prepared to shower players with Skill Points. If I were thinking of selling my Skill Points (I am not btw), my instinct would be to sell the SP at the first opportunity because CCP might just flood the market. If you are thinking of buying SP you might want to reflect on what is happening in China where CCP seem quite prepared to mess with the supply. On the other hand CCP could just make it clear what they really intend to do.

Monday, 1 February 2016

CCP Stopping the Press... sort of.

Billy Brag - a British singer/songwriter, used to have an interesting approach to writing a love song. He would try avoid using the word "love" as he thought it was a lazy way to describe something that as we all know is profoundly complex and dammed confusing. Were this made compulsory I can think of a whole raft of terrible songs that would simply disappear in a puff of logic. Sadly this will never happen. I say this to help illustrate a problem. How to write about the CSM without mentioning the actual word. I am struggling but I am open to suggestions. But here I am with another clickbaity post on the topic and I can't just help but feel a little cheap and dirty. This isn't another grr CSM article. Been there, done that,  read my Crossing Zebras piece. I shall take some solace in that.

However the latest catastrophising around the CSM does raise some interesting questions. For those that don't know - and that will be most people I guess, CCP changed the eligibility conditions for CSM candidates. Now CCP are perfectly entitled to do that. The CSM is their creation, they pay for it and they claim it has a purpose that is 'useful', even though they have not spoken to it for 6 months. Maybe they can write it off against tax.(I know, I should just let it go). ANYWAY, the most contentious change is that owners and paid employees of gaming media sites are now barred from being on the CSM. Originally is appeared to be more wider in that even a sad little blogger like me who earns nothing (I don't monetize) would be regarded as an existential threat to CCP's business, but it has been refined in that this now impacts only sites that cover other games. So as long as I don't do a paid review of Tetris I am safe. Assuming of course I was barking enough to actually want to be on the CSM and deluded enough to think that someone would actually vote for me.

You can see the sense in the new rule. If you are paid to work under an Non Disclosure Agreement (NDA) for a gaming site as well being a CSM under a different NDA for CCP and the site boss demands you provide some inside knowledge to justify your wage then what are you going to do? Feed the kids or enjoy a nice trip to Iceland? There is obviously a conflict of interest and hungry kids make a lot of noise.

So on that level, it is not an entirely unreasonable rule change but of course that is not quite the whole story. The process as to how the rule change came to be is not at all transparent. The White paper that contains the change was originally presented to the CSM to assure. However the version they saw did not contain the change. It was added later. Quite who decided to add it and why they chose to do it deliberately without consultation. My speculation is that it originated from somewhere other than the CCP Leeloo or CCP Falcon. If it did come from one of them then it would have needed sign off from someone higher up in CCP. Either way someone decided to intercede at a late stage with wording that was so initially ambiguous that it would have excluded most of the space famous applying for the CSM. The later refinement that resulted from the outcry may have helped clarify the intention in part but it also then highlighted those to be excluded. Which in effect turned out to be one person - Sion because he receives money from TMC according to The Mittani in tweetfleet slack. It could also have effected Chance Ravinne and Uaxdeath if they were still standing.

Not unsurprisingly, because of the way it has turned out and the way it was executed, The Imperium feel they are being (or are at least portraying they are being) victimised for a variety of reasons. Even if it is not true, the shambles leading to this point makes it a plausible spin opportunity. In their position I would likely do the same. Their actual response we will leave to the drama department and will probably be forgotten in 6 weeks or so. Quite where the refreshed kickstarter appeal sits in this now is hard to see. To me this crystallises the point that is being overlooked. Why should gaming media sites not be represented at the CSM table? Yes the NDA obviously, but put that to one side for a minute. Why wouldn't CCP want feedback from gaming media sites? TMC, when all is said an done, provides a lot of Eve coverage. Others could do more if incentivised to do so. If CCP wants to promote Esports as a new growth area as it has said it does, then it is going to need them and the coverage they bring. So while there is degree of sense in the new rule (if not in its clumsy implementation) for the CSM, there is a legitimate need for a forum where gaming media and CCP can engage. It would also bring some legitimacy back to the CSM as being solely a player council. Although it might just be easier to get rid of the CSM altogether. But then I've said that already (sorry).

Monday, 18 January 2016

Skill Trading Because?

So CCP have faced the harsh reality that it really is a new year and have knuckled down to work. Today they got to "S" on the must do list. Skill Trading in New Eden. The dev blog doesn't offer much more in the way of changes from that proposed before Eve Vegas. A slight appeasement to the vets to allow them to monetise more of their brains and we also now know it is going to be released in February. 

What we also got was An update on the roadmap and the start of 2016 from CCP Seagull which is always refreshing to see. I'll come to that in a bit.

Now I am no fan of the Skill Trading proposition as I have said before. On a personal level I would actually benefit from it - insta cyno alt or something like that for example and I would probably be able to outbid a Newbie for the skill points, which kind of defeats one of the arguments put forward for this feature. So it is not as if I would feel disadvantaged by this being in the game. But that isn't really the point of discomfort I have about it. I'll try to explain why.

Fundamentally, it is not clear to me Skill Trading is needed - or more specifically why this has been given such a priority. CCP_Seagul gave a passionate explanation about the reasoning for it at Eve Vegas which you could possibly accept at face value and leave it at that. But to my mind it didn't explain the priority given to it and the resources it must be consuming when there are so many big changes happening. What we are not hearing is Devs singing its praises and certainly players weren't clamouring for it before it was announced. It is hard to see it being a huge revenue stream, so the return on investment is also hard to see. You can only surmise this has to be a strategic decision coming from above for some unspoken purpose. What would that be?

I can only speculate so tinfoil caveat massively applies, but today's video, welcome as it was, did not describe anything beyond the end of April if you assume that is when the Citadel expansion lands. It wasn't a road map update. Just additional information to what is already known. Cynically I would say it was citadel eye candy plus some recent features to sweeten the Skill Trading message. Nice but begs the question what happens after April and why sweeten the message because the idea has not had universal disapproval by any stretch of the imagination. Put the two together and there must be a phase 2 to this Skill Trading feature later this year would be my thinking.

My guess is that Eve will adopt the free to play (F2P) model later this year. That would be the phase 2. It is the only thing that seems to make sense. Subbed/Plexed accounts will become premium accounts and F2P accounts will have to pay for training either though the market or Aurum would be my first guess. I have no way of verifying this obviously and could well be wrong. It is a big and likely controversial undertaking if it were to happen so the development silence would be appropriate. CCP does need to refresh its user base and it is an established business model so I am not necessarily against the idea (but I do have reservations). 

What I would be strongly against is CCP misleading people with one feature when in fact it was a precursor for another. People could make gameplay decisions based on the Skills Trading feature that might disadvantage them when the full enormity of a F2P came to pass. That would be switch and bait and wouldn't do wonders for the player trust they have built up recently Obviously, I could be totally misreading the tea leaves here. But then ask yourself why has CCP_Seaull pushed this so hard and why is next year's roadmap such a mystery? Interesting times perhaps. Anyway, back to the asylum...