Sunday, May 24, 2015


~or “Who Should Play EVE?”

Over on Lowsec Lifstyle, CSM Sugar Kyle has posed a question regarding NPC gameplay and PvE in general in EVE, Non Player Characters… It’s an interesting read. It talks about a suggestion made by Wex and Dire to have NPC escorts for freighters.

This kinda ties in with some suggestions floated by CCP in the ongoing comments discussion surrounding the New Player Structures where it was said;

[link] We have been discussing the idea of a module that recruits pirate spawns to defend against people entosis linking your structure, but ultimately how customizable the timezone mechanics are will be the key here.

[link] You would not rely in NPC defense at all, it would be a mild deterrent against a lone ship at best, the point is to show up for your timers and defend.

And I feel this also ties in with the latest changes and new NPC activity in EVE. The Seekers and Drifters and the new vastly improved NPC gameplay that CCP has brought us. NPCs that actually chase you down through a system and even through gates, NPCs that station camp you, though not as dedicatedly or as long as players will, NPCs that actively engage and while not ‘creative’ like live players, they are an immeasurable improvement over the dull-lackluster-rote-mechanic gameplay that is standard EVE NPC fare. I have greatly enjoyed the last few weeks chasing down Seekers and running from Drifters… in Hisec FFS! For me to ‘enjoy’ gameplay in hisuc means CCP has upped the NPC game immensely.

That all said I am as much on-the-fence on us 'hiring' NPCs as Sugar is, but my concerns are all about balance and player exploitation. But as in all things EVE, these are the preeminent concerns when CCP goes to ‘messing ‘bout with the game… so it’s either accept the potential negative issues from player exploits or never make any changes at all, and I guess we know the answer to that one…

You know, there are times I love the EVE playerbase… and then there’s the rest of the time.  =P

Anyway… what I took away from this rather interesting post and idea is this. Why is solo gameplay in EVE such a Horribad Thing ™? Seriously, why? I mean look at the chart at the top of the post again… That is from the EVE PLAYING BEHAVIOUR entry on Evelopedia from an online survey taken on 10.05.12.

55% of the playerbase played a solo game. 16% exclusively solo and 39% primarily solo. More than half of the playerbase played a primarily solo game in 2012 and I would bet every ISK I have that this is basically still true today. So WHY is solo play so maligned?

I know the argument is that players who are engaged in social gameplay have better long term retention. This appeared to be ‘proven’ by CCP Rise back during Fanfest 2014 with the “New Player Experience Vision” presentation. To sum it up it seems that at best EVE retains about 10% of the new players who actually subscribe.

That’s right only 10%...

I was… I was floored by this and responded with a post, For Once, a Simple Sales Problem…. in which I posited the following…

If 80 to 90% of the people who try out your game leave, and they seem to be looking for good solo PvE gameplay, GIVE IT TO THEM! Why is this so gods damned hard to understand??

The vast majority of MMO players out there have played themeparks for YEARS and therefore only know themepark gameplay... OK, so give them what they want... really top notch PvE... then once they are here, you have a shot at them 'discovering' sandbox social gameplay… IE a chance for us to show them what real sandbox social gameplay is and how it can be soooo much MORE than Themepark solo PvE gameplay... But we can’t do that if they leave.

Why is this hard to understand? If 80 to90% of your potential customers are walking in, looking around for 15 minutes and leaving... the only possible  reason is that you are not selling something they want… IE, they are not the problem... YOU are.

What CCP Rise ended up with anyway was that we have to push new players into social and interactive gameplay. Then we will see better long term player retention in EVE and this is how to best grow the games playerbase.

I called bullshit then and I still call Bullshit.

I say only those players who WANT social gameplay are better retained by social gameplay. And we are limiting ourselves and the game by denying that solo players and solo gameplay has real merit in EVE Online.

EVE is such an immense verse, with a truly amazing variety of gameplay and NO end game. We can, and should, accommodate ALL possible playstyles. I have and will never stop arguing that we (and CCP) should always be looking for New Gameplay that can be brought to EVE. I still think WiS was the greatest lost opportunity in EVE’s history.

Walking in Stations as it was being worked on would have opened up the game to the hundreds of thousands of FPS gamers worldwide besides bring a whole new way to play EVE for the rest of us. And while I believe Dust 415 is a good game and it does connect to EVE, it is not really ‘in’ EVE, not on the PC in the same client. The potential of flying your ship to an abandoned Sleeper Station, or now an abandoned Jove Observatory hmm?, and hacking your way in to explore and fight ON FOOT… well, we and CCP lost out massively when CCP caved to the whiners and FiStards during the Summer of Rage.

So, here is my point.

We need to look at every potential addition to EVE’s gameplay from the standpoint of its potential to add to the playerbase. We and CCP should never limit the potential to add to the playerbase by limiting gameplay options.

Solo, causal, small gang, large gang and meta-gang (for want of a better term)… social, solo and even anti-social players should all be welcome and ALL should find an amazing ‘verse of experience out there in the black…

With this caveat: Never change the Open World Sandbox Open PvP gameplay in EVE. The ONLY thing CCP should be actively limiting is any movement away from Sandbox gameplay to Themepark gameplay.

Or, to put it more succinctly, The ONLY thing CCP should be actively limiting is any movement away from No Safety to Safety. IE EVE must never lose the Risk and Loss Are Real aspects… that would kill EVE as we know it.

So let’s look at hiring NPC Mercs from this standpoint.

To all those who will whine and gnash their teeth that we are robbing from the real Mercs in EVE and ruining their gameplay, to them I say this… If the people who need Merc services the most (IE noobs) can’t afford you, then cater to your customers or screw your whining.

OK so let’s say you are an OMC solo Industry player who simply does not have the time or ability to play effectively in a group or even yes, a player who does not have the desire to play with others... you prefer the Lone Wolf game, and you always have. You have a freighter op to run, say 10 hops total with 3 lowsec hops so you go to the Market and open the NPC Merc Hiring 'board' and look over the available contracts. You hire an NPC 5-ship freelance pirate gang for Transport Defense Escort... the support you bought in this case is 2 Rep Cruisers and 3 Ewar Cruisers.

The gangs ships, fits and compositions are based on the available contracts and prices, Want armed ships capable of potentially destroying an attacker? Want Battlecruiser escort? Battleship escort? Each of these comes at a significantly higher cost, scaling upwards by ship/class/fit and gang comp.

If you are attacked en route they start repping you and the Ewar ships damp (or jam/neut/etc.) either reactively or based on the targets you call. What this does is add, at a cost, to your defenses as a solo player... that's all. The support NPCs can be attacked and destroyed, probably have to be, so you can be attacked and destroyed... this just adds gameplay on a Risk vs Reward basis. Your have increased your costs for better defenses and the attackers have to factor in dealing with them.

Now most will say "get more friends" or “join a corp, EVE is a social game” Dire’s concern was that this type of gameplay might "increase isolation and disengagement" for solo players. I disagree. If a player has, due to work schedules, travel, etc. no workable option but to play solo or if a player simply has no desire to play socially, I’m ok with that. If that same player finds fulfilling game play even through he/she has to or wants to play solo, then the option to hire NPC’s to help with this or that may actually ADD to their gameplay, and increase their retention.

The argument that hiring NPCs might "increase isolation and disengagement"` smacks a little too close to the old “Internet friends are not REAL friends” and “the internet is isolating you from real contact with others” again, bullshit. Think on that a bit…

No one should ever have to do anything in EVE other than cope with the environment and mechanics in order to do whatever they want to do. I consider coping with the open PvP and non-consensual player interactions, IE gankers, scammers, war dec’ers, et al as part of the whole ‘environment and mechanics’ thing. If you fly in EVE, you accept that it is a dangerous verse and even if you fly solo, you will never really be alone. I just don’t feel you HAVE to play in a group to really enjoy or be a part of EVE.

CCP Rise said upwards of 40% of new players were just, you know Leveling up Their Raven... So? Who cares? Seriously... why do we care?? As long as ALL the players are enjoying the game and paying for their time (IE CCP making more money so we ALL get a better game) then who cares if there are players who prefer solo?? I mean seriously, how is it a BAD thing for the game as a whole?

Oh I realize it may not be a good thing for YOU, or HIM or HER or THEM… it may not make Rixx Javix or Talvorian Dex very happy… (not a dis to either Rixx or Tal, just an ongoing difference of opinion…) So what? Are we here to ‘provide content’ for each other? To improve each other’s gameplay? Or are we each here for our own game? I don’t know about you tovarishch, but I am here to play my game, my way, period. If you get something outta that, cool, if not, that’s cool by me too. I care not either way as I am here to enjoy myself.

So what is it then that makes the socialbears so loudly proclaim that all players must be actively engaged in a group? Are they not out there in space like the rest of us? Do they not also explode? Do they not also scan down sites? Run plexes? Run missions? Haul shit all over space? Do they not put stuff on the market and buy stuff from the market? Is it that a solo player’s money no good? They pay for each month whether via PLEX or CC or Paypal or Steam, same as everybody. I say that alone is merit enough. We need MORE players, not more of just THIS or THAT kind of player.

Let’s go back to the EVE PLAYING BEHAVIOUR online survey mentioned earlier. When asked, “Who do you usually play EVE Online with?” the response was interesting…

The top entry, “Friends I met in EVE Online”, 68% is very interesting when looking at New Player Retention because some are (1) Forum Born players coming into the game and immediately blood jumping into deepest null to join Goonfleet or such, so, well, retention is not really an issue in that case now is it? But the rest are (2) talking about a group they met later… but how much later? Sadly this graph does not say.

I am sure some are getting involved with corps early on. In HELPeR we have a tendency of carefully collecting noobs. But I have a corpmate who played totally solo for a year before we met at work and he joined us. But we didn’t ‘save him’ from increased isolation, depression and disengagement due to playing solo. He was enjoying the game, he is just enjoying it with us now is all.

But most interesting of all is of course, the second highest response to ‘Who do you play EVE with?’… 36% replied they play solo, a substantially higher number than the 16% given in the ‘What is your playstyle?’ chart at the top of this post.

So I say give solo players great solo content... as long as we don't change the PvP Open World Sandbox rules in EVE, good Solo PvE gameplay will never kill EVE nor make it "safe" nor turn it into a WoW in Space Themepark, no, quite the converse… Good PvE and support for solo gameplay will bring in MORE players period. If we actually do support and respect all playstyles, why not work on retaining ALL playstyles?

There are enough players in the world who will never play EVE because of the PvP and the Sandbox Open World Rules that we need to seriously consider attracting and retaining ALL players and playstyles that are willing to play in such an environment... not additionally limit ourselves even more by saying ONLY Social Gamers are worth retaining in EVE.

I say make EVE more not less for everyone... as long as they want to play in an Open World PvP Sandbox. You wanna play as one of hundreds? thousands? cool, we gotcha covered. You wanna play solo?... cool we got that too, and you will be in the majority and I know you will have an amazing experience 'cause you are playing EVE and yes, you are adding to the game as a whole, no matter what the 'socialbears' say.

Fly reckless and see you all in the Sky =/|)=


  1. Great post - I could not agree more. While corps can provide support to new players, and thus increase the chance of them sticking with the game, good PvE content and a more interactive NPC system can do that as well. Why not have both? I understand that CCP is working on new PvE tools, so perhaps we will see better missions soon. Like you, I have found hunting Seekers to be an absolute blast. That's a step in the right direction, certainly. But I'd love to see NPCs interact with pilots in more meaningful ways, too. If I clear out all the anomalies in a system, my mining should be rat-free for a while, for example. I love the idea of hiring NPC mercs for escort duty. The highsec gankers won't like it but they can adapt. I see so many opportunities for better NPC gameplay - I hope CCP gets bold and tries out more experiments in this direction, like the proposed Interbus service for small deliveries, for example.

    1. This is eggzactly what I meant. Why can't we have both? Why can't we have it ALL? Why limit the game or gameplay? EVE is a niche game and by the gods in Iceland I pray it will always be thus... but as a niche game we need to open it up to as many players as we can, and that means the widest variety of gameplay and playstyles.

      I too feel the New Improved Burner Missions, the Drifter Threat and the hint of possible new NPC interactions that aren't the "go kill it" kind but the "we're here to assist you" kind is a major step in the right direction.

      There are a lot of players who for a variety of reasons simply can't or just quite simply don't want to be involved in a corp. And I have absolutely no problem with that, at all. But we and the game need them just as much as we and the game need people like the Mittani and Chribba. SO we need to support their game as much as we support the goons and my little wormhole corp...

      In the end, we all fly the same deadly skies together... doesn't mean all of us have to join hands though. Some just wanna play their own way, and I say good on 'em! Now they need the tools and support to make that happen.

  2. I like it. The only thing I see as bad about people levelling up their Raven is that they rarely interact with the universe outside of their missions. I think something like this, with some epic arcs thrown in to unlock the use of the NPCs, would get them to come outside of their comfort zone. Particularly good if you use the epic arcs to teach some of the co-operative skills to get into incursions, and the higher skill PvE.

    It also gives New Eden a bit more life, and will let players feel part of the world, as opposed to the world just being a back-drop.

    However, I can see it being massively abused by some players. Null sec fleets with NPC support would be a nightmare on servers. I can also see it becoming a pre-requisite for joining Incursion fleets.

    But that's a mechanical issue. In spirit, I think the idea is great. And it would be odd to question NPC support ships, when there are hulls entirely designed around drone use.

    1. I am really glad you liked the basis of my post but… [warning little bit of a rant comin’…]

      The only thing I see as bad about people levelling up their Raven is that they rarely interact with the universe outside of their missions.

      So? So what? So they are not ‘interacting with the game outside of their chosen gameplay’ … so what? Why must they? Seriously, what difference to THE GAME as a WHOLE does it make? Does it affect the game mechanics? Does E=Mc2 change? Do wormholes spawn faster? Does CCP make less money?

      No. As long as each player, solo or social is getting what he/she wants from the game then no, it makes no ‘objective’ difference at all… it’s just the way you ‘subjectively’ want them to play.

      Then… ”…get them to come outside of their comfort zone.”

      Really? Do you honestly think pushing players… people playing a GAME where each are playing for their own personal ‘subjective’ enjoyment… do you think pushing them “outside of their comfort zone” is going to increase ‘their’ enjoyment? Seriously?

      How in the hell do you see that working? Let’s say you are a wormholer like me, and like me you would never spend a second more in nullsec than you absolutely have to unless it’s to get from point A to point B and even then you’d rather waste a few hours scanning down a wormhole pipe 30 jumps long to AVOID nullsec.

      But due to a concerted and vocal effort by the ‘nullsocialbears’, CCP implements a series of changes that devalues W-space and increased the value of Nullsec to the point where to effectively play the game, you really need to play in nullsec.

      “Oh hells yes!! This is what I have been waiting for for 4 years!!!” “Thank you CCP, for showing me the error of my gaming ways!!!” Uhhhh Not.

      Try and push, entice, wheedle and cajole me into nullsec and I, and many others, will just unsub. So many players just do not understand that pushing (IE forcing) players ”outside of their comfort zone.” will do nothing more than make them decide to leave EVE and go find some other game where they can play the way they want to. And the whole game suffers for it.

      [Rant over…]

      That said, as I said early on my concerns are all about balance and player exploitation. But as you said yourself these are, in the big picture, just straightforward game mechanics and can be dealt with over time by rebalancing and patching.

      I do so love your, ”It also gives New Eden a bit more life, and will let players feel part of the world, as opposed to the world just being a back-drop.” EGGZACTLY!!!! We live in a shared verse… shared with other Empyreans and billions of mortals… no matter how uber we are, in the end they outnumber us millions (billions?) to one… and I love and will take every scrap of immersion I can get. =]

    2. I think we're both on the same page, but I do want to caution you against being too conservative. So...

      -CounterRant Engage-

      "So? So what? So they are not ‘interacting with the game outside of their chosen gameplay’ … so what? Why must they?"

      To see what else they can do. To discover more about the intricate lore around them. To feel a little bit more as part of the universe. I don't mean to say they should be forcibly moved out of mission running... only that they should have incentives to occasional pop their head up and have a look around.

      I don't think that's a bad thing, and I'm nowhere near proposing a systematic pressure to get out into null-sec... and I'm not sure where that came from given I suggested Incursions as the step after missions. I do think there's value in giving some variety to missioners experiences. And if they mirror other activities in EVE that's good. Gives them an option after a certain style of gameplay goes stale for them. I think that was the purpose of Burner missions...

      -End CounterRant-

      As you say, we live in a shared universe, and that's pretty much what I love about EVE! I don't think missions do a great job of world building though. Hence why I say Raven levellers don't interact with the universe. I want to give them more ways to actually immerse themselves in New Eden :)

      As a little aside, are you sure E=Mc^2 in New Eden? A number of FTL events suggest this might not be the case anymore...

  3. I can agree with very little of what has been said here, and in my humble opinion I think you are making a mistake in your reasoning. And that mistake is centered around this:

    You assume that the game CAN, and SHOULD, cater and accommodate all playstyles.

    This is a well-intentioned thought but one that is also muddled in assumptions and a pretty clear agenda.

    First off you associate the people who care about EVE staying a social game with carebears, which are despised and that for good reasons (hopefully you agree), 'socialbears'... I mean, really?
    Then you go after the likes of Rixx Javix, and how they would not be happy about a solo playstyle, and thus seems everyone obviously hate the likes of Javix (right??) it means catering to a solo playstyle can only be a good thing.

    Well the thing is, EVE can NOT accommodate all playstyles, nor should it. EVE is really good at one thing, being a world that create Stories from its players. This is the secret ingredient of the game, and no other game on the market provide that at such as a degree as EVE.
    The people who want EVE to stay a social game are the people who care about EVE staying true to what it's good at instead of wasting itself in areas where other games have a clear advantage in.

    And the likes of Rixx Javix, they provide Stories and they make others something you have to care about (mostly because they can kill you, or help you not get killed sometimes), and that to a much MUCH higher degree than a solo PvEer could ever hope to provide.

    Again I think you are lured by an audience that is not going to be the grail you think it is. Solo PvErs pay for a sub, but they merely help the game stabilize, not -grow-, WoW grew because of word-of-mouth and because it was the first open and accessible social experience in MMOs, EVE grows because of the word-of-mouth created by its Stories and will continue to do so because it will provide a higher quality social experience in a world where everyone is tired of the low quality of the WoW experience.

    Minimizing the price the game will have to pay to cater and waste resources on a playstyle and demographics that provide nothing special to it, I honestly think this is a mistake. And those who you have seen up in arms against solo players this is what they are scared about, not the solo players themselves, just the price they will exact on the game.

    1. Yes, you damn right I do believe that the game CAN, and SHOULD, cater and accommodate all playstyles. Period.

      Now, as for ”muddled in assumptions and a pretty clear agenda” (yup… it’s my internet soapbox and Like Rixx and Tal I shall shakily stand upon it and preach the truth AS I SEE IT. However, I am and always will be open to discourse and discussion and I read and listen carefully to everything anyone says in response to me… That said let’s see if you have any “assumptions and agenda” and look to how your take on all this breaks down shall we?

      ‘Carebears’ are despised and that for good reasons (hopefully you agree).

      Nope. Not now, not ever. Carebears are simply players who are risk adverse and are for the most part if not completely disinterested in pursuing PvP. I don’t despise carebears, I have flown with many and am currently running the Orca for mining ops in Hisec because it is (1) very chill and easy gameplay and (2) I am hanging with a few newbros and that is what they want to do for now… well, that and rat which is also very chill for a 4 year vet in hisec and is also basically carebearing.

      No, YOU despise carebears and that is YOUR assumption and agenda. I don’t and a huge number of players disagree with you on this. That is your subjective and personal opinion that has nothing whatsoever to do with whether or not solo gameplay is better or worse than social gameplay and/or whether or not we should have positive NPC interaction in the game. I have made it quite clear I am looking at the game from an objective viewpoint, I also try and make it very clear whenever I do make a personal subjective statement.

      'Socialbears'... I mean, really? Yup. Socialbears… you do know where ‘carebear’ comes from right? Carebears are seen as players who are PvP adverse. As such they are despised and denigrated by players I call PvPbears… these are players who feel PvP is the End Game and ALL PvE is shit and all players who ENJOY PvE are pubbies and worthless players.

      I tack ‘bears’ onto many playstyles… Greiferbear meaning those players who’s primary game is killing noobs or scamming and such. FacWarbear is a Faction War player who looks down on other gameplay… Socialbears are players who value social gameplay over all others to the point where they feel solo gamers, or solobears in Turspeak, are pubbies and worthless players.

      I did not ‘go after’ Rixx… that was rich… and catering to solo playstyle in EVE can only be a good thing.

      ” EVE is really good at one thing.” sorry, nope. EVE is amazing at a huge number of things. I am all for Emergent Player Behavior and Emergent Player Lore… but it is by no means all EVE is. If you think that then you have an extremely narrow view of EVE and this is also part of your muddled assumptions and agenda.

      I get that you want EVE to be all about the players and nothing else. But it was not created that way, and it is not being managed that way… how so you ask? Drifters I answer… next.

      ”…the people who care about EVE staying true to what it's good at instead of wasting itself…” Wow… thanx for clearing that up for me. I had no idea I cared about the game so little… =\

      Once again, your muddled assumptions and agenda are showing. I care DEEPLY for this game… I play everyday and have for 4 YEARS AND I play NO OTHER GAME… do YOU play anything else? A little DayZ or some League? I don’t. Hell man I spend hours BLOGGING about it… do you? But no, I obviously don’t care. What I do care about is the WHOLE game… not just my little subjective personal aspect of it.

      to be continued....

    2. I never said solo PvE’er are any kind of Holy Grail… what I did say was, to quote me:

      “ The vast majority of MMO players out there have played themeparks for YEARS and therefore only know themepark gameplay... OK, so give them what they want... really top notch PvE... then once they are here, you have a shot at them 'discovering' sandbox social gameplay… IE a chance for us to show them what real sandbox social gameplay is and how it can be soooo much MORE than Themepark solo PvE gameplay... But we can’t do that if they leave.”

      You really need to read the post before commenting bro.

      And finally, ”…the price they will exact on the game.” By this you mean the cost CCP puts into PvE. Well the cost CCP pays is paid for by subs and PLEX. And the more player we have, the moar subs and PLEX is sold and the moar RW ISK CCP has to put into the WHOLE game. Moar sand and better buckets and shovels for ALL players.

      Alpha, what you want limits the game by limiting the available playstyles and gameplay options. EVE is a niche, for it to grow we need all the players who can find enjoyment in an Open World PvP Sandbox… all of them, not just the ones you with your muddled assumptions and agenda want. We need PvP, we need PvE, we need FiS and we need WiS… we need PvPbears and PvEBears and Griferbears and White Knights and Hermits and Mittanis and Chribbas and Turamarths and Rixxes and yes, even Alpha Diops.

      And there is the difference between I and thee my friend… my assumptions and agenda are for the whole game and all the playstyles, no matter whether I like them or abhor them… yours are just for the piece you like and understand best.

      Oh just FYI… your ”carebears, which are despised and that for good reasons” set the tone of all that followed… and TBH, also set my teeth on edge. No, the players I despise, for good reasons, are the one who despise others for their gameplay.

      By the way, I consider myself a Carebadger… a Carebear with TEETH and an attitude. I like PvE and PvP equally. =

    3. The problem I have with carebears is certainly not personal, for all I care they can play their game and leave us alone.

      But they don't, they never do. They always, and that whatever the game not just EVE, ask for games to have this or that feature removed because it goes against their carebearism. See WoW and them making city raids impossible or at least highly impractical to do.

      And thus in a game like EVE that is centered around and whose potential lies in PvP, it is quite clear that the few people who choose to be carebears in EVE chose the wrong game for it.

      To be clear
      -> There are better games that allow you to have the ever-growing, risk-free gameplay than EVE, and those game are made from the ground up to accommodate that style of gameplay.
      If you play EVE to have a relaxing, exclusively profitable time, you are doing harm to yourself as the game is terrible at providing that. Someone will come to ruin your time sooner or later even if the guy has to sacrifice a ship.

      But hey, in the end people are free to do what they want with their time and money. If you want to be a carebear in EVE, sure go for it.
      But don't ask for a game that is terrible at accommodating this type of gameplay to do so.

      And the problem is that they always do. Either through asking for war-decs to be removed or asking for hi-sec activities to be more and more profitable at the expense of the natural lure in profitability lower secs are supposed to be.

      Hence why they are despised.

      See, nothing personal here.

    4. And now, to answer the whole thing about who care the most about the game.
      Never did I say that you didn't care about the game, I said that the people in arms against solo gameplay do so but they care about the game, doesn't mean people outside that group don't care about it.

      You care about the game, the same way the people who were asking for Player Housing in WoW thought it would make a great addition to the game and could only enrich it.

      Let's be realistic here, EVE is not a PERFECT game, no game is. It has things it is good at and it has things it is bad at, same for WoW, same for GW2, same for SWTOR and Rift. Each one has their thing it does really well, others moderately well, and others at which they are utterly terrible.
      WoW has a polished world and gameplay, but deeply lacks in customization, lore, and social impact.
      Rift has the most open Player Housing in the market, has a great customization system, but has terrible PvP.
      GW2 has a great open world, has nice cosmetics, but has the most messy combat you could imagine.
      SWTOR is SWTOR.
      Each one of those games would have to spend years to take care of their weaknesses, often they would have to change themselves down to their foundations, or worse in their philosophy or the philosophy of the people who work for each game.

      Would it be worth it?

      Maybe for some of those games, but for EVE to be worked upon to be a good solo PvE game, I don't think so.

      See this comment in a recent thread on Reddit about EVE:

      Some people just won't like EVE. The same way you cannot make absolutely everyone on the planet like Fanta. You can try to put a little more cola in your Fanta, but then what do you end up with? Something that fails to even be a good orange-based beverage.

      EVE is good at a "huge" numbers of things, but those things are not PvE and Solo gameplay.
      Trying to make EVE good at it will only put focus out of what EVE is good at, the question is not if you care about the game, but if you care about it enough to recognize it for what it is. A great PvP game that makes you care about its world, what happen to you in it, and the people you fight and meet along the way.

    5. Finally about the whole agenda thing. I don't think have an agenda, I'm not motivated but anything but sharing my perspective on EVE, and I think that perspective has value for now as I am fairly new to the game. This is going to be my second month of EVE now and I don't see it being the last.
      And thus I think I can offer a perspective that is most valuable to you.

      See, I am, for now, the answer to all those questions and observations you have made. The MMO player who has played themepark for years? Check. Played WoW? Check. Raided, enjoyed it and did PvE for a time? Check. Left WoW and bunny-hopped from hyped MMO to hyped MMO for years. Check Check Check.
      And yet, here I am, hooked by EVE and finally feeling like I found THE MMO since WoW, above GW2, above Rift, above SWTOR.

      What got me into the game is what will get others into it. And for me it was Fanfest 2015 and the Alliance Tournament. Fanfest made realize that it wasn't just Spreadsheets Online but that it was a legit game with the Stories, that you could care about, that you could affect. And the Alliance Tournament made me realize it was a damn good game to people, you could shoot things, you could heal people, and you had ton of choices.

      If you care about EVE getting more players this is what you should care about, people seeing what EVE is good at more, them being more exposed to the big battles, to the gameplay of EVE and to the overall universe. Them getting in a corp as soon as they start the game to be further hooked and find what they want to do in EVE.
      Catering to the solos and PvErs would not have attracted me, on the opposite, if I wanted that I would be playing WoW right now, they have a Dungeon and Raid Finder there and I can damn right have a way better solo experience there.

      But I don't want that because what I, and many others who left who, are looking for a game in which we can invest and that we can play with others, and where the fights actually mean something instead of being your Xth Warfront or Battleground.

      This is not about limiting the game, it's about, again, playing to its forte, to what it's good at. And the better it gets at it AND the more people see it, the more they will have no option on the market than to join the game.

      This is the optimal strategy for EVE, in my perspective.

  4. > If you get something outta that, cool, if not, that’s cool by me too. I care not either way as I am here to enjoy myself.

    You think that but that's not true, else this is maybe not the game for you.

    You actually care about the impact you have on others, and sometimes do things you'd rather not do just to make sure that impact is positive.

    That's the thing, MMOs are the games where we get our enjoyment by the impact we have on others. Either by being that rogue that managed to top the damage chart in that boss fight you managed to win for the first time, by being the FC who managed that brilliant ambush on whatever Alliance, or more simply being that guy today who managed to deny Rixx Javix of his kill.

    This is what MMOs are good at, and if you are not looking for that you are better off playing a single-player RPG, seriously those are really awesome nowadays and you never have to worry about getting ganked in there.

    You actually care about what others do, for they are your enjoyment.

    1. Annnd we’re off!

      “You think that but that's not true, else this is maybe not the game for you.”

      Let’s hop on the most obvious part… “…this is maybe not the game for you.” you know what I’m gonna say here right? You do not get to decide that for anyone except yourself bro. And just saying that says all I need to know about your opinions of yourself and the game. This has been the only game for me for 4 years… and you don’t get to say shit about that.

      That's the thing, MMOs are the games where YOU get YOUR enjoyment by the ‘impact’ YOU have on others. I get my enjoyment from the camaraderie of my friends, the accomplishments we share whether in a mining Op or teaching new bros how to get heir pods out of a fight, or just enjoying the beauty of the game as I move some ship or shit from here to there.

      Yes my corpmates are damned important to me… but unlike you I do not focus on the effects I have on others, on players outside of my friends an corpmates. I take pride is a well executed hot drop on miners inna hole, and the thrill of making it out of a drop on us when raiding C5s… but it is not the same thrill and pride you describe…

      You care about the “top the damage chart in that boss fight” I don’t…
      You care about the being the FC who did whatever… I don’t…
      You care about being that guy today who managed to deny Rixx Javix of his kills… I don’t, and never will.

      ”This is what MMOs are good at, and if you are not looking for that you are better off playing a single-player RPG, seriously those are really awesome nowadays and you never have to worry about getting ganked in there.” LOLOLOLOLOLOLOL!!! Yeah… ahh that was good, I had to give it a minute or 2 before I could stop laughing. Yer a funny guy. You are also just as clueless.

      Oh and I’m gonna answer your last one here…

      I am glad you commented, you didn’t flood me with them, it was only 3 and I like getting comments.

      I’m not gonna speak to anything related to WoW as I tried it many years ago and, well… I have never had any desire to be an elf much less spend my time looking at some elf ass wander around. Plus everything looks like a cartoon… the graphics are, well… I’ve seen better in comic books. So I know nothing about WoW except this… EVE players are to WoW players as WoW players are to non gamers.

      Now as to my not taking into account the nature of EVE, and ”I will argue that EVE is a game that does not mesh well with solo gameplay.” Really? You did see the chart at the top of this post right?? I mean its right up there if you scroll up… you know big ol picture showing how 55% of the players play solo?? You saw that, right? ‘nough said.

      ”EVE is just sub-par when it comes to it (PvE/solo gameplay), and the Drifters gameplay is only good because it mimics -> Player activities <- (which is hunting and camping people).”

      Hmmmm… ” Drifters gameplay is only good because it mimics -> Player activities <- (which is hunting and camping people)” sooooooo…. let’s have some more of that shall we?

      to be continued....

    2. ”EVE needs to play to its forte, this is what will allow it to attract more and more players. Of course there is a price to pay for it, and I'm not minimizing it. What I fear is that you are minimizing the price that would have to be paid when catering to solo PvErs.”

      EVE is a niche game, there is a very limited supply of gamers who will play in an Open World PvP game. How do I know this? I have replied and commented on a number of non-EVE blogs and internet magazines, both gaming and non gaming when they have had posts or articles about EVE… the level of dislike for EVE based on the Open PvP, the Loss is Real and Risk is Real Sandbox game mechanics is amazing.

      The reaction I have gotten when talking to gamers who play WoW and the other standard fare Themepark games (IE the vast majority of MMOs) are literally;
      “How can you play that horrible game?”
      “The stories I have tell me everything I need to know about ‘that’ game.”
      “I understand it takes months to learn how to just to fly a ship.” and my favorite
      “EVE? That’s that game full of assholes isn’t it?’’
      These are real life quotes from people both online and IRL. We all know how EVE is perceived in the world and in the gaming community… and it may be ‘amazing’ and it may be ‘incredible’ but it aint always ‘good’.

      Yet you desire to limit it even further to just social PvP gameplay will not ”attract more and more players” cause there are only so many out there that will play this type of game and you want us to shut out a portion of this limited pool of players… cause you don’t like PvE and solo players.

      And I am very careful of what I wish for… very careful.

      Yer welcome. and thank you for commenting... I mean it, I may strongly disagree with you but that doesn't mean we can't discuss all of this. Different viewpoints are a good thing. =]

  5. This is going to be my last comment, and I apologize if I flooded you with them lol, but what I'm discussing here is important enough that it asked for its own post.

    Pretty much, careful what you wish for. Either when it comes to the whole NPC hiring thing, or the whole catering to solo playstyles.

    I will take the misadventures of our WoW brethens and the realization they are having about Garrisons and Player Housing.

    -> For years WoW players asked Blizz for Player Housing, and for years Blizz said that they didn't want to do it because they were afraid it would make the world feels more empty as everyone would just stay in their instanced houses and never be out there.
    Still players still asked for it, years after years, and that because they were convinced it would -> add more gameplay to the game and that those who wouldn't want to do it wouldn't do it and others would just enjoy them <-.

    And with Warlords of Draenor, Blizzard finally catered to those pleas and unveiled their take on Player Housing, the Garrisons.

    Everyone was happy about that, it was going to be great! Blizzard making their own player housing could only end up with the best kind in the MMO world since WoW was the "best" MMO out there and Blizzard always polished everything!

    -> Except that one thing the people who asked for Player Housing didn't take into account is Blizz being Blizz and the nature of World of Warcraft <-

    World of Warcraft is a game about periodic rewards and getting more of them, focusing on gameplay above social or lore components, and that while having to contend millions of people. That's just the nature of the beast.

    So of course the influence it had on the take of Blizz on Player Housing is that Garrisons were a place where you had to go periodically to make minions go on missions to level up and get rewards for you.
    Except that there was zero customization, you could only decide on what kind of buildings you could place among like 10 of them, and the choice was heavily motivated by gameplay reasons.

    So not only the player housing was poor, as you could never really make the place feel like home, but you HAD to stay in the place thanks to all the rewards it provided. And so people did.
    As Blizz warned them, people are realizing now that they stay too much in their Garrisons and that it cuts on their time spent with guildmates, or out there in the world.

    They are realizing that Player Housing is not something that mesh well with WoW.
    It makes a world that already felt empty feels more empty. Although WoD made efforts to make the leveling interesting (and 'sandbox'-y) so people would go out there, only to make a core feature that would ask them to stay inside their Garrison.
    It had no customization whatsoever, having its focus solely on the gameplay and mechanical elements.
    People are forced there in order to receive rewards they need to progress.

    People who asked for that feature did not take into account the effects the nature of WoW would have on that feature.
    And it turned out the WoW formula makes for terrible Player Housing.

    And that is the core of where I think you are making a mistake when you think that catering to solo players and playstyles is the right thing to do for EVE.
    You are not taking into account the nature of EVE, and I will argue that EVE is a game that does not mesh well with solo gameplay.

    EVE is just sub-par when it comes to it, and the Drifters gameplay is only good because it mimics -> Player activities <- (which is hunting and camping people).

    And adding features that focus on solo and PvE will end in a self-fulfilling prophecy, everything will be dandy at first, and then the repercussions will slowly creep in.

    EVE needs to play to its forte, this is what will allow it to attract more and more players. Of course there is a price to pay for it, and I'm not minimizing it. What I fear is that you are minimizing the price that would have to be paid when catering to solo PvErs.

    Thank you.

    1. Alpha, I want to say thank you for commenting. I am always pleased as punch when I get a comment or 2 but to open the blog and have 6 waiting was, well.. it told me I had said something people were reacting to and that is always a great feeling.

      I want to give your comments the reply they deserve and right now I have to go and build a new feed barrel for the pigs and put a door on my dottir's new chicken run but I hope to sit down and reply soon.

      Thanx again!

  6. To the point about using every means at our disposal to retain players, i agree. Provided that the hierarchy favoring social and cooperative gameplay it's maintained and advanced.

    1. Tal, here's the thing.. I agree that social cooperative gameplay is important. I am a social and cooperative player myself. The difference between us is I value players who play solo exactly as much as players who play socially if for no other reason than they pay CCP for their game time too. But there are other reasons...

      Solo players effect the verse in a myriad of unintentional ways... changes on the market, things bought and sold, in Empire they show up in Local like everyone else and that alone effects players actions and reactions to various situations... you can't 'know' 2 of the 6 people in local are solo players... you have to assume they may be alts or scouts or something but you cannot 'safely' assume they are ignoring you and hoping you will ignore them right back.

      Solo players change the landscape when they anchor POSes for Industry... they change the number of available AB's when they strip them and move on... they provide targets of opportunity when hauling, missioning, mining or exploring... or just undocking.

      And Solo players don't actually play solo... they are out there in the black right beside us everyday... they just don't wanna talk to you or anyone else... and as long as they are finding their fulfillment ingame... that bothers me not one damn bit.

      It seems to me like you just don't wanna accept that solo gameplay can be fulfilling and a solo player can be as passionate about EVE as you, but both are still true... just mebbe not for you.

  7. I admire the ardor of the newly converted here, but Tur isn't proposing any great change to EVE. Solo players already are the majority. Player damage to rats already dwarfs player damage to everything else combined. The headline-making stories are already being made by the same double handful of charismatic leaders who will always make them.

    EVE has two problems: one is that the social gameplay takes place in gated communities--TS, Mumble, etc., and often behind new-player-hostile SP and API requirements as well, not to mention scams, reverse safaris and just plain bad CEOs. The other is that there's not much interesting for new players to do unless they've done a fair amount of reading and researching. The first problem is frustrating for social people coming into the games with no friends. The second is frustrating to solo players. And so EVE's shiny new NPE boosted retention from 10% to 14%. Fourteen percent. Because it only tackled a small, easy problem.

    86% of the people who try EVE will never tell a story, because there's nothing to hook them until they have a story to tell. And psssst: solo PVE players have stories, too. Some of them write blogs!

    People will eventually expand out of their comfort zone in their own good time. If a mission runner doesn't want to move to incursions, that might be because the travel requirements and the waiting don't fit into a tight RL schedule, but the L4 agent in the same station in the same system is always ready with a bite-sized bit of content. It's all about horses for courses.

  8. This pretty much sums up every discussion/argument/whatever I've ever had with the "solo gameplay/pve is killing Eve" crowd and is a much better defence of that kind of play than I've been able to mount.

    Well done, Tur :)

    1. I am flattered and honored my good friend. Thank you. =]

  9. Tur,

    Love your writing, love your perspective and thank you for sharing. Not sure why others think you need a shout down guess they might fear change, but that's just me guessing.

    "Why is this hard to understand? If 80 to90% of your potential customers are walking in, looking around for 15 minutes and leaving... the only possible reason is that you are not selling something they want… IE, they are not the problem... YOU are."

    This... all of this and OMG more of this ... business is business CCP pull your heads out ... scare us all with the resounding POP and get this game back to making you lots and lots of money! Stop worrying about the sniveling masses and broaden all the boundaries of EVE.


    1. "Stop worrying about the sniveling masses and broaden all the boundaries of EVE." This, this and moar THIS!!

      Give us FiS, WiS, FPS and FPF (First Person Fighter) and MOAR!!! We want is ALL!! Well, at least I do!


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