Monday, November 2, 2015

Prosecu Victorious Empyreans...

~or “Participatione Veteranus Emendato…”

And in case the title and subtitle din’t clue you in, this one’s about PVE…

Main Title translates as, “The Victorious Pursuit (of) EVE Players”
Sub-title translates as, “Improved Participation (of) Veterans”

Well… YOU try making a Latin based acronym for PVE and see if YOU do better… <grumble><grumble> anyhoo…

In these dark days of decreasing PCU and increasing player malaise I found much to be hopeful for in The Right Honorable Sugar Kyle’s recent post, Eve Vegas 2015 - PvE Round Table.

PVE is one of those contentious issues in EVE… the PVErs feel our PVE sucks balls and the PVPers WANT our PVE to suck balls… and I feel CCP has been basically neglecting PVE in favor of driving PVP. PVE in EVE is mainly just a way to make ISK, not an end in itself as PVE is in most all of the other MMOs out there.

Most MMO’s that allow PVP have it as a sideline, as an option, but not as the focus of the players time ingame. EVE’s PVE in comparison is very formulaic, lack-luster and overall a grind… IE boring repetitive gameplay.

This has led IMHO to 2 Very Bad Things ™ for our much beloved MMO…
(1) bots are very successful at formulaic and repetitive tasks therefore botting can very lucrative and has the additional incentive of relieving the player from the ‘boring and repetitive’ parts of the game while at the same time making his PVP ISK for him… and,
(2)  PVE players (IMHO the vast majority of gamers in the world) are not interested in our much maligned MMO because the PVE sucks balls (and because of the unrestricted PVP).

So… how do we overcome these obstacles to player growth and retention? Better PVE might be a good place to start. And it looks like CCP has decided to give that a try.

I have written on this before… basically if more than 50% of your existing customer base (ref Socialbears) wants “X” and if approximately 90% of your potential customer base (ref Simple Sales Problem) are not interested in your product… mebbe you should take that into consideration… seem to me CCP might be doing just that.

The Burner Missions… the Seekers in hisec and all of New Eden… the Drifters… all PVE with a decidedly new feel and in some cases very cutting edge gameplay, at least as compared to New Eden’s normal PVE fair. I have not run any Burners but the general response in the metagame has been good overall as far as I have seen…

I have myself have greatly enjoyed hunting Seekers for fun and Antikythera elements and then run like a scared little gurl at the sight of Drifters landing on grid… As a matter of fact I recently paid the Drifter ‘stupid tax’ when I found a Drifter wormhole, the first I had encountered, and instead of taking the time and making the run to reship to my trusty ‘stero… I jumped the hole in my Sites fit non-cloaky Ishtar.

I BMed the return hole and went sightseeing… warped to and landed on something I had never seen afore and a Drifter was there… turned, burned, tried to warp… nope. Scrammed and assploded… shit. Did get my pod out only to find that the exit hole, being artificially created by the Drifters… lands you 80+KM out and like a gated site you can’t BM the hole and warp to it at ‘0’… you always land 80+km out and have to slowboat… in your POD… to the exit… pucker factor at 10+ the whole time knowing that Drifters often chase you and I’m not completely sure they won’t podkill in one of their holes... shit. But I finally made it out and back to Amarr ok.

The point being this was a PVE encounter not PVP… I was afraid of a NPC ship that was more than capable of destroying me, one that acts unpredictably, one that can and will often chase you and one that can and will often engage you without prior aggression… IE an NPC that acts like a player. Excellent!!

I am looking forward to CCP Affinity’s upcoming Blog post with another one probably in January and another one potentially in March. She has a two year plan with a very flexible roadmap. She has also said that they know they need to add more missions and they will be working on it.

The Tribute System is Concord giving players an extra thank you for doing what they normally do. Not sure what this is, sounds like LP to me, but anything to make PVE more interesting and lucrative is all to the good IMHO.

And while “payout” is important I feel that NPCs that act more like live players is where we need to be headed. I believe we need NPCs to cover the range that lies between shooting a structure and shooting a player.

Think about it. Until the advent of the Seekers and Drifters we interacted with NPCs in space basically in one of these 3 ways:

NPCI L1: Structures. Basically not a threat on their own (unless a POS and then only if armed and really only when manned).

NPCI L2: Empire missions and sites from L1 to L5. Always the same ships, comps, and tactics. Very quickly understood with fits, comps and tactics for a 100% win rate… hence what we call the grind. Unless you really fuckup you basically can’t lose = boring.

NPCLI L3: Incursions and Sleeper Sites. They had far higher DPS and scammed and webbed but eventually they too had set ships, comps and tactics and have been gamed to the point of being just a grind… granted a small error in these and you stood to lose big, but they are also the most lucrative PVE in the game.

Now we have:
NPCI L4: The Drifters. Ships and fits that are capable of killing capitols… and with unscripted appearances and non-standard and non-formulaic tactics… tactics that include initiating engagement, chasing in warp, re-engaging AND in the future…

NPCs will dock at your citadels. When you attack some of these NPCs they will follow you. They will follow you from system to system. They will follow you through wormholes. Oh HELLS yes!!! And…

NPC patrols are coming to FW. You will get LP for them. Patrols and NPC activities are coming to all areas of space. This could add some randomness and opportunities. There will of course be standings hits for attacking patrols.

Any NPCs that follow you through wormholes won’t affect the holes Mass Limits (I disagree with this… a ship is a ship and a mass is a mass whether flown by me or an NPC but oh well…) They will (however) spawn holes. See?? Mass is mass dammit!

We have always had the Peddlers and Trader NPCs that move from station to station…but they ‘do’ nothing. They have no impact on the game and attacking them was not worth it. Right now they are just set dressing… CCP Affinity wants to turn them into real convoys of ships that actively Trade from system to system so if you have standings with them they would move stuff for you. However, they can be scanned and attacked as well so hunting them has a place. It isn't just a free to safely move.

Maybe one day we will figure out how to steal from Interbus ships that move things from the Citadels.

They are looking at Drifter convoys that will come to the aid of Sleepers. !!!!

They are looking into how this might affect Capital Escalations and is why they are also looking into nerfing Drifters a bit. Their super weapon will not work against transversal. Basically, going fast at an angle in a small ship like a frigate will make you immune. They do not want to radically change our ability to complete a site. See future dev blog.

There will be more Drifters. (IE NEW Drifters)
Next year Drifters get their own CAPITAL ship.
Plus Drifter LOGI… after all, who goes out to fight without logistics?
The Drifter storyline will continue to advance.
You will see this in the Drifter vs Amarr events.
Drifters are planned to drop different loot, possibly Drifter skins and ships.
They're working on the AI in these areas.
Drifters are the test bed for the better AI responses.

Some of this will be also available to us in missions.

CCP wants to change NPC standings interactions so that you can't be friends with everyone. Being friends with “these” people here means “those” people over there become hostile towards you.

Lastly and IMHO very importantly CCP is looking at a procedural generation system for NPC Interactions. Procedural generation will add randomness and uncertainty by moving triggers, items, and NPCs around. Fleets would increase with (react to) the number of players. Not Soon ™ though, they are looking at hopefully two years to get it implemented and in the game. But at least they are looking at it…

They are working on Data site rebalancing.

Current rollout plans are:
Tribute and Data sites around Christmas.
NPC Patrols in March.
Drifter capitals next summer.

They are planning more Holiday Themed PVE events, but… they need to fit into the story line and… No Sansha Claws. LOL

Dire Neccessity (Blog Commenter Extraordinaire) added that CCP wants to keep the in game Eve universe and real life holidays separate. Accordingly, Crimson Harvest is about as close as we’ll get to an in game Halloween event and out of game announced trinkets is about as close as we’ll get to a Christmas Celebration.

All of this sounds incredibly good to me… NPCs acting in way that fill the gap between shooting static or weakly auto-defended structures and shooting players. Think on it… you come into EVE from a themepark background. You find yourself facing NPCs that range from std so-easy-to-wafflestomp L1 frigs to you-better-has-your-shit-together-an-some-friends-along L5s and Sleepers… to running into NPC pirates who fly and fight like noobs to one who are worth fighting… really worth fighting. This fills out the gray space between Uber Misson Runner and Leet PVPers. Instead of days or months of feeling all but untouchable to getting suddenly-butt-sexed by a group of PVPers you would have all kinds of levels of “interaction” potentially easing the way from one to the other.

All in all I am feeling somewhat vindicated… I have been one of the voices out here on the webs calling for CCP to realize that good PVE does not harm or lessen EVE’s PVP roots and nature. In fact I firmly believe that if you give the Themeparkers of the world really high class PVE… then they will stay even though EVE is a PVP game at heart.

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


  1. You raise a good point about catering to your customer base. However, I'd add two caveats to that.

    1) Ultimately, it's absolutely critical for any business to know what they're good at, what their niche is, and how to deliver upon it. Player interaction is that niche for CCP. The reason the Blood Raider sites were so successful is that PvE was the conduit through which players interacted with each other. Those sites became contentious, and led to fights. It appealed to both sides. Pure solo content isn't going to cut it, but I think they've hit the nail on the head with a way to use PvE to create engagement.

    2) You're right to point out numbers in support of an argument about what CCP should be doing, but sheer player count isn't enough. Just as in sales, it's not about leads contacted, but qualified leads. CCP needs to modify that "number of casuals" based on anticipated longevity by in-game activity, maximum potential customer value, and ancitipated peak engagement. When you do that, it balances things a bit more.

    1. While I do not “disagree” with you Tal… your comments and posts always lean strongly to a very PVPcentric viewpoint. Player Interaction, the part of the game you love above all else, seen as the be all and end all and everything else in a supporting role.

      But as important as PVP is, it is only one “part” of the game. I see the whole game as a gestalt of its myriad parts…
      PVP is akin to the heart or the brain, each an organ so vital that life ceases immediately without either one of them.
      PVE is like the lungs or circulatory system… just as vital only in different ways, but… lose the use of either and again, death ensues almost as rapidly.

      I am not just a PVPer nor am I just a PVEer… I am an EVE Player, an Empyrean, a citizen of New Eden and Anoikis and I Interact with the game and its players equally… that, to me, is Player Interaction.

      If we look at CCP and EVE from that viewpoint, from my definition of “Player Interaction” as CCPs niche market… then CCP creating world class PVE is AS important as CCP enabling world class PVP. To you the Gauntlets were successful was because they led to interactions in your preferred PVP playstyle… but they were as successful to PVE players because they were also fun PVE with the lure of worthwhile loot.

      As even said it yourself, ”It (the Gauntlets) appealed to both sides.” And “Pure solo content isn't going to cut it…” and yet the Gauntlets were pure solo content… I know, I ran many solo. But you add, “…I think they've hit the nail on the head with a way to use PvE to create engagement.” IE your preferred part of the whole game, PVP interaction… and I don’t disagree, I don’t agree that just enabling PVP is or should be CCPs total focus. I feel their focus should be offering world class PVE in a sandbox PVP enabled environment.

      World Class PVE attracts the highest number of potential customers;
      The sliding scale of Security and its associated increasing Risks vs Rewards gives the playerbase a wide variety of space to play in and choices to make in gameplay;
      And the open world PVP gives it all meaning.

      Meaning you ask??? Yes, meaning. The following quote sums up my feelings about why EVE is so special... so different, why its players are so invested and committed to such an endeavor as to play a game with no end in sight, no way to ‘win’… for years and years and years.

      “…the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly; it is dearness only that gives everything its value.”
      Excerpt from “The Crisis” by Thomas Paine

      This is what CCP needs to focus on… this is their niche market.

  2. The PVE round table and the ideas that were discussed during the round table seemed like after thought. Notice that none of ideas show up anywhere on the 'road map', none of the ideas were discussed during the key note, and the round table was not heavily promoted. When I saw the mention of 1-2 years, I couldn't help thinking 18 months and locked station doors.

    It all sounded great, but I haven't seen any commitment from CCP to these ideas.

    1. I agree in whole but not in detail. Yes, CCP has not publicly focused on PVE. CCP markets EVE as a PVP MMO and so it is seen as one and hence they do not and probably will not advert the PVE gameplay of EVE publicly. I will take a second look at recent keynotes because I do believe there was discussion of PVE… though maybe not at EVE Vegas. And yes there is only one ‘official PVE team’ for EVE but keep in mind the Burner missions were created by Fozzie and CCP Bettik is working on Drone sites and drone faction modules.

      ”…18 months and locked station doors.” if I may… the reason the station doors are still closed… is us. We freaked out like entitled children on CCP for daring to spend time and effort on ‘sparkly barbies’ and they reacted by shutting down ALL work on First Person Avatar based gamplay… We made them lock that door and throw away the key… that one is on us, not them and as far as I am concerned the worst thing “we” the playerbase, has ever done in our game.

      Back to PVE… I think CCP may know what side their bread is buttered on. They are just working to keep both the bread AND butter together. PVP and PVE go hand in hand in EVE. Both are necessary, both fulfill roles and needs and both together give us a greater, larger, deeper game than one alone would.

      You say ”… none of ideas show up anywhere on the 'road map', none of the ideas were discussed during the key note.”

      Here is the current roadmap… Please tell me where you see PVP on this map? Right, I don’t either. PVE is not detailed out on the roadmap anymore than PVP is… Both of these are game playstyles not game mechanics or areas but I believe both are covered by the section “New sandbox gameplay” and included in “New areas of the universe”…

      As for CCPs ‘commitment’ to PVE… have you been watching the Scope videos? Seen any Ghost sites, Burner missions and Blood Raider Gauntlets?? Seen any Seekers and Drifters IN HISEC?? Did you actually READ my post above??? All of this takes time and effort… lots of both. So sorry but I have to strongly disagree 'cause yeah… CCP is committed and delivering new and improved PVE.

    2. "Here is the current roadmap..." Are you kidding me? Capital overhauls, new structures (oh, they're also going to be deployable in WHs, but they haven't figured out how that's going to happen and in Hi Sec - no details though, that's prime CCP foresight) If that isn't PVP, then I'm afraid we're not even discussing the same thing.

      "As for CCPs commitment to PVE..." Scope videos: marketing. Ghost sites, burner missions, and drifter incursions (soon tm) - more of the same. The promises are tantalizing, to be sure, but a lot of work went into that locked door to.

      Jaded here. Sorry. I hope I'm wrong.

    3. The changes you pointed out are as much related to PVE as PVP, if not more.
      They affect Hauling Carriers and Ratting Carriers and Industry POSs too... and I can guarantee more POSes are anchored and kept fueled for Industry than for any other use and I'm willing to bet Carriers get used far more often for hauling and ratting day to day than for Fleet fights.

      Is ok Crash... I feel your pain man. I'm not jaded... yet, but I can't say I am the fanboy of CCP I used to be. The thing I am holding on to is the 'tantalizing' part... I too hope for all of us that you are wrong, time will tell.


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