Tuesday, 25 November 2014

How CCP Rekindled My Interest in Eve Online

I could be talking about how unhappy I am with Ubisoft for continuing to show how they don't care about releasing finished games that have had any form of QA, especially on the PC, with the release of Assassin's Creed Unity and Far Cry 4. I could also be talking about more Gamergate controversy. But I can't be bothered with all the negatives that have been bombarding my favorite hobby for the past few months. So instead, I'm going to talk about one company that I lost faith in turning my opinion around almost completely.

Eve is my second oldest gaming love. Starcraft would be my first, and that was another love recently rekindled with the amazing WCS finals at Blizzcon 2014, but we aren't talking about that. When I first saw Eve, it was at a friends house back in 2004, at a time when my PC was terrible and I didn't even have internet at home. He was mining in some little Caldari ship (I later learned it was actually the Ibis, the rookie ship for the Caldari), and was telling me that everything in the game was made by players, and every player was on the same server. At this point I had been playing Freespace: The Great War, and space games were a genre I loved.

It wasn't until late 2009 that I actually bought Eve. By this time, I had constructed my first real gaming PC and had bought an Xbox 360 for some console fun. I had played in a trial in 2006, but never subbed to the game because I was lost and confused about what to do in it. A few friends had come over to LAN (remember those?) and while the rest of us were updating or getting set up, one of the guys logged onto Eve to update skills. This prompted a conversation, and I ended up buying Eve at the end of the following week.

I stopped playing as much in 2013, mostly due to being burnt out on the community side of things, but also partly because I wasn't finding anything new and exciting between releases. You see, CCP used to have a six month dev cycle for Eve, meaning that twice a year an expansion was released. These expansions would generally have one or two major changes, balance fixes to both ships and in game career paths, and occasionally a new ship, module or structure. Some of the expansions were lauded as being amazing, while others lead to people shooting monuments in protest. In true CCP style, expansions were hit and miss, and the lack of changes that made any impacts to me burnt me out on the game.

Andie Nordgren (aka CCP Seagull)
So what's changed? First, a new executive producer for Eve Online, Andie Nordgren (CCP Seagull), was finally appointed. Seagull has gained the admiration of many old jaded bittervets by basically telling it like it is, without the spin that many came to expect from CCP. In fact, Seagull admitted that Eve had some very serious issues affecting the health of the game in an interview with CSM9 member Xander Phoena on his Crossing Zebras podcast. The honesty has been a refreshing change of tone from the previous "nothing is wrong, we're working on it," or the complete lack of comment that we usually got from CCP.

The other big change is a switch to a six week development cycle. Now instead of two large expansions each year, we get several smaller releases each year. The advantages of this style of development have become obvious. When something is ready to come out, it comes out with the next release, at a maximum of six weeks waiting time. Things no longer have to be rushed out for a release date, or pushed back as far if they can't make the deadline, so there are less broken features released.

A number of quality of life changes also made to the game have brought me back. The removal of the 24 hour skill queue limit has been the largest one for me. No longer do I feel like I have to log in to update skills, meaning that Eve has become less of a chore. The upcoming removal of clone costs has made me more inclined to put myself in situations where I might lose my pod once the change hits. The much needed UI changes have made information more accessible and easy to read. Another change that doesn't really affect me, but definitely has an effect for the new players is the removal of in corp aggression without consequence. Dubbed AWOXing by the players, this new change means that you can no longer shoot a corpmate without first dueling them, or else you end up with Concord destroying your ship. Alongside this change, you can now kick someone from your corp regardless of if they are docked or not. Where before you could only kick them if they were in a station, now it puts that action in a queue and they are removed at the next downtime.

All in all, CCP has changed it seems, and in my opinion that change is for the better. Some seem to be complaining that the removal of consequence free in-corp aggression and the removal of clone costs are CCP removing some of the harshness that Eve has become so famous for. While I love the harsh side of Eve, I fully understand why CCP is removing these things. AWOXing hurts new players and makes older corps and alliances more reluctant to recruit new faces. Clone costs were the very definition of a game mechanic that just exists to exist, not actually adding anything to the game beside a constant cost to gaining more skills or putting your pod at risk.

But the biggest thing to get me truly back to the game? This recent Eve trailer called "This is Eve". I'd recommend watching it in 1080p/60fps for the full effect.
I can't describe properly how much this actually represents what Eve is all about. Some of CCP's more recent trailers have shown someone flying a frigate like a fighter, as though the game is some sort of twitch based game. The "This is Eve" trailer shows what exactly makes Eve so unique and why it's player base is so loyal to the game. The player interactions. Eve is simply a means for thousands of people to build empires, partake in space politics, or even just be a guy flying with others.

Keep it up CCP. I love the new six week cycle, and can't praise CCP Seagull enough. But more than anything, keep making trailers that actually show people what Eve is all about: The people playing.

As always folks,


No comments:

Post a Comment