Thursday, May 8, 2014

An Open Letter to CCP

To Whom it may concern,

I want to ask something direct and I'd really like a direct answer from someone at CCP… say Senior Producer, EVE Online Development, Andie Nordgren (CCP Seagull) or even from CEO Hilmar Veigar Pétursson himself.

First to define where the question comes from…

There is a stunning amount of 'tinfoil and Conspiracy Theories’ currently making the rounds of the EVE blogshere, posts and forums as regards the planned direction CCP is taking EVE Online. The direction as defined by the vision of "capsuleers taking control of space" with 'Player-Built Stargates' and ‘New Space’ as the centerpieces for that vision.

As we understand it now this will require a very large collaborative effort from the players in order to build such a stargate. This sounds to me and to many others, less and less like an ALL playstyles centric vision for EVE Online and more and more like a vision that is based heavily, if not solely, on Nullsec Coalitions, meaning Large Groups of Alliances style gameplay.

This worries a large segment of your playerbase. The large number of players who play solo, casually or in smaller groups are very concerned that they will be left out of this vision as Nullsec and the large Nullsec Coalitions are not their preferred playstyle.

Therefore my question is simple…

Does CCP plan on solo, casual and small gang gameplay having a place, IE being involved, in this new vision?

When the new Player Built Stargate is built, will it give ALL of “us” access to fascinating new space?
or, will it be’ Go Null or GTFO’?

On his blog I asked Ripard Teg, outgoing CSM8 permanent member, this question directly…

Does CCP still plan on supporting solo, casual and small gang gameplay or not Jester?

His very timely answer (thank you Ripard) was as follows…

CCP has made no secret of the fact that they want players in corporations and alliances. Players that are in corps and alliances stay subscribed more, play more, and generate more content for other players than solo players.

Therefore, as a general statement, these players are going to get lots more attention than solo players. CCP Rise made that point during the PvE sessions. That's not to say that solo players will get nothing, but solo players are not where CCP's bread is buttered.

In response to several follow up comments, he additionally said this…

As I said right in the post, CCP can walk and chew gum at the same time. They don't have to choose one option and ignore the other. They can and will work on both.

That said, my original point stands: the focus seems to be for the moment on EVE as a social experience rather than a solo experience.

I want to state clearly that Ripard is probably answering this under NDA and as I told him, I fully understand the reasons and merits of NDA having signed a few in my time. So I understand there may be things he cannot say… That said, his answers do give me some small hope that CCP’s vision is not nullsec exclusive…

But I, and a very vocal percentage of YOUR playerbase CCP, would really like their worries and fears set at ease if possible by a direct and unambiguous answer…

CCP, do you care about the solo, casual and small gang players? or is it, “Well, you shoulda been in B-R if you wanna play EVE”…?

I, and all of those of us who love this game, but don't want to do so in Nullsec, await your answer.

Fly Wreckless and see you in the Sky  =/|)=

PS - Asked and Answered, here and there...


  1. Amen. Having been in several small and large(-ish) corps, I have chosen to go (mostly) solo for RL reasons. I have 100mil+ SP on my main, 70mil+ SP on my primary alt, and several million over my other random alts. 2 accounts. Am I valuable to CCP after almost 5 years of subscribing these 2 accounts? I hope so, but I guess we'll see.

    1. This is part of the whole ting to me.... there are so many playstyles in EVE, they should not focus to hard on one JUST because it get the ink... Yes, Sov Null gets publicity, but Sov Null is not the END game of EVE... ther is NO end game and all playstyles are valid... or at least, they should be even if they don't cause new articles in the New Yorker...

  2. "Players that are in corps and alliances stay subscribed more, play more, and generate more content for other players than solo players."

    This is a chicken and egg argument. It can just as easily be said people who do not stay subscribed and/or play less, who fail to generate the sort of content CCP desires, do so because CCP does not desire their preferred game play. Solo players become disheartened and leave, because it becomes obvious CCP doesn't cater to them. It's disingenuous, at best, to argue solo fails when those saying so create the environment of it's so called failure. To argue it is somehow less important than cooperative game play, as defined by those who've decided solo does not measure up, is ridiculous. I certainly do hope it was the NDA that made Ripard say such a thing, because I personally don't think he's that stupid.

    I'm sorry my friend, you will not get an answer from CCP on this. They haven't the guts to be that honest. But have a look at this comment on my post "Back to Basics" from my friend in FA, part of the CFC, and ask yourself how many "solo" type characters he has, and how many big alliance characters.

    "I have played and enjoy playing as part of a corp and an alliance. My alts however, have their own corp, and do just exactly what you’re talking about. The simple joy of killing rocks…I like it when an asteroid belt goes “poof” and space becomes empty with all those nice rocks in my cargo hold. :-)

    Mabrick, you know the quiet little back corner of space where I hang out. A few friends of mine from earlier EVE days have joined me for a while to simply relax and recharge their batteries before returning to other pursuits. It’s a nice life….."

    He's on my notification list. I can guarantee you he spends more time "solo" than with his main in CFC. Perhaps it is more accurate to claim that most "solo" players are also large scale cooperative players and create content when the mood takes them. But how often does that happen? Once every three month? Every six months? And when they are not helping create content, aren't they earning ISK through "solo" game play every damn day? I am fairly certain that's exactly what they're doing. CCP is in danger of another bus to Abilene (i.e group think) moment like Incarna with this player driven content holy grail desire. Unfortunately, when CCP finally realizes cooperative game play may not be the primary game activity they think it is, rather than Jita riots people will just go play Star Citizen.

    1. I agree with you, in part... My worry is based on CCPs need, as all product making and selling for profit companies have, that of marketing, public awareness and Branding. And for better or worse, Nullsec, with its admittedly amazing huge virtual wars and battles, comes under the heading of extremely good FREE publicity... the likes of which ad men can only dream of creating.

      How else can a GAME company, much less an Internet Role Playing game company generate the kind of really GOOD PR and advertising that gets your company and product written up in the likes of Newsweek, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal and other such prestigious publications? For CCP… its things like the CFC/RUS vs M3 Titan Battle in B-R5RB.

      Add to that CCPs struggle against the well understood fact that in the gaming world of the MMO's out there EVE Online is a very niche game to boot. The open world sandbox unrestricted PvP (I include all forms of PvP here, fighting, scamming, market, etc.) aspects of EVE make it an ever harder product to sell than the main line theme park Sword and Sorcery MMOs.

      CCP has to grab for whatever gets the Brand 'out there' and anything that can cause an increase in market awareness and publicity is key. And Nullsecs Player Empires does that better and more regularly than anything else... So I understand their need, I just pray and hope that as Ripard also said...

      "CCP can walk and chew gum at the same time. They don't have to choose one option and ignore the other. They can and will work on both."

      Let us all pray that they are just taking advantage of a marketing 'good thing' and the current focus on Industry, while 'seeming' to be a nerf bat to Hisec and Solo, small gang playsyles is actually just what CCP Seagull said... something better than a rework of some of the core gameplay code,instead it is a replacement of that code based on Lesson Learned in gameplay and in the backend.

      This is what the 5 Point Projects in the Keynote are about. (1) Industry, Science, Teams (Kronons); (2) Corps & Alliances; (3) Stations, Outposts and Starbases; (4) Sovereignty & Warfare; (5) Stargate construction & control. Each of these, according to CCP Seagull, need to be basically totally written anew. Numbers 1 thru 4 are replacements for current code that are being re-designed to support improve EVE Online and for Point #5... The New Starbases and New Space.

      CCP Seagull, Andie Nordgren, also stated, multiple times during her Keynote address on these specific Projects, that (1:19:26 to 1:26:00 this was for ALL of us. Now this could, of course, be just 'jargon' as you surely don't want to stand up in front of a large group of your paying customers (and on streaming video) and disenfranchise a large portion of them...

      Oh, wait...what about the 'DUST v Legion' Keynote thing you ask...? I seriously do not think I heard CCP Rouge at any posit say that (1) Legion was currently anything more than a potential project and (2) at NO point did he say DUST 415 was being sunset... that is all, ATM, all just tinfoil and CT generated by CCP fumbling the message badly. But they never said it was going away.

      Anyway... I, for one, am going to keep holding hope that she MEANS her statement, that "...this will be an epic journey for every capsuleer to be part of."

      If not, we will find out one day... and then, yea... there might be Star Citizen... or hopefully something cause I'm gonna miss this wonderful game badly if that happens.

    2. This is where we get to see the Dead Sea Effect in action again: CCP is so focussed on the 10% (because they "create content") that they ignore the rest, who slowly filter away. Then will be left with just the 10%, wondering what they could have done to make their group content more interesting for the players who didn't want to be serfs in some null sec kingdom.

      All of this discussion is ignoring the 50% of players who leave after the first month of subscription, too.

  3. Citizen!

    What is good for the Party is good for the Citizen. Please report to your local doctrination station for re-education.

    Thank you.

  4. An interesting question. I think the answer depends on what CCP employee you speak to, and what time of day it is. I do recall reading a number of quotes that suggest CCP support all play styles, including solo. They just happen to have a habit of contradicting themselves.

    1. There have been MANY such quotes... my fear is it is actually just "spin"... PR and 'Crowd Control' (LOL)... and the truth is something they may be being very careful about...Strangely the DUST v Legion thing, amongst other PR faux pas, does not say they are very 'good' at this... so I hope they are being honest... You know, on the basis that the truth is hard enough for them to get right so outright lying is not really a workable option...

      hey, a guy can dream right? =]

  5. If your worry is that you will be locked out of the space behind the gates if you are not part of a Null Block I understand your concern, but Null isn't quite a doughnut yet so there will inevitably be multiple parties building a gate. Yes you will be paying for the privilege, but are you can't expect them not getting something back from their investment. Multiple gate owners means competition which means reasonable prices.

    If paying other players for access is problem and breaks the purity of your solo experience I have to ask where do you get all your ships and modules from.

    1. That is exactly what I and many like me are most worried about... That CCPs "vision" is so null centric that it will, whether intentionally or not, exclude solo, casual and small gang playstyles.

      I full well realize Null is not 100% CFC controlled, but it IS 99.99% large Coalition controlled whether they are at odd with each other or not, there are only 7 Coalitions that control all but ONE system in Sov Nullsec... all but one system.

      That means, in truth there are 7 key people, the Coalition Leaders (yes and their Lieutenants), who set the tone as it were for ALL of Sov nullsec. These are a very small group of people who control the largest available space in the game... and with the advent of the PBSG (Player Built Star Gate) this very small group of players, out of the 500,000 total accounts in EVE (what, an est 250,000 actual players or somesuch? No one but CCP knows for sure) will decide the future of how this new space is accessed and used and WHO gets to use it.

      Unless CCP is planning on letting groups like EVE Uni build one... and will they be allowed to be built in Lowsec? in Hisec? or JUST Nullsec? Yes there will be multiple parties racing to build the gates... but WHERE and controlled by WHO are the key questions. Control is the key here... WHO will be in control?

      If the new gates are allowed in All security spaces... Hi, Low and Null (except W-space, just give us our normal finicky, random and wonderful 'naturally' occurring holes connecting both clusters and I'll be happy...) but allow them to be built in ALL spaces THEN i will believe the 'vision' includes all playstyles... I, like the rest of us, will have to wait and see.

      And no, if payment or taking knee to the 7 Sov Lords in Null is a requirement... count me out. Like I said before, I will just pop back through the crazy marble to the space I love on the other side of the sky... leaving a fat 'ol ASCII 'finger' in local as I go....

      And well, where do other players get some of their Sleeper Loot & Salvage and the best PI products this side of Antares from, Hmmmmm? Me and my kind. The who do you buy 'stuff' from argument holds no water bro...

    2. The same 7 people control moon goo, but do you avoid using T2 items and ships because of that?

    3. Keep twisting my words... OMG do you people even read? Of course I use T2 mods... Jesus that's NOT what I am saying nor does it have ANYTHING to do with what I am saying. I don't CARE about Nullsec... I CARE about whether or not CCP is looking at EVE Online from the perspective that ALL PLAYSTYLES ARE VALID... or have they drunk deeply of their own marketing Koolaid... that Nullsec is THE END GAME and the only valid playstyle worth being supported...

      Cause according to CCP, Diverse & Group gameplay makes up only 5 to 10% of retained new subs... However 40% of new players who stick it out more than a month, 4 TIMES the Diverse & Group players, and damn near HALF of all new subs, ARE solo, casual and small gang players...

      CCP should put their money where it will do some real good and grow the playerbase. Focus on retaining that 40% and capturing some of the 50% who sub and leave in under a month. Banking the whole future on your company on 5 to 10% of your potential customers in simply bad business.

      I DO NOT advocate EVE become a Themepark!!
      I DO NOT advocate ANY changes to current PvP mechanics!!

      I do however advocate that a strong focus on generating more and better PvE will go farther to fill our skies with new players than any content aimed at 5 to 10% of retained new subs... and better than Stargates or any focus on Diverse & Group playstyles... We need new players who will find really good PvE content that will keep them flying in EVE long enough to discover the Diverse & Group playstyle CCP holds so dear...

      And it will do more to fill CCPs bank accounts so they can continue to make EVE the best MMO on the market AND afford to expand in to playstyles like DUST 415, Project Legion and Valkyrie.

    4. I admit this is a bit of a sidenote, but because I'm not that interested in the main beef it's what I keep talking about.

      The materials for T2 items and ships are totally controlled by large groups of players. The content of producing the materials is gated from a solo player. The content producing T2 is not gated after invention. the content of using T2 ships and items is not gated because the people who hold the stuff want to trade theirs for things they need.

      I don't see a reason why PCSG's wouldn't mirror this structure. The content of building them will be gated from people who do don't have the capability to gather the required resources and defend the in-construction and ready gate. The people who have a gate will want as many people as possible using the gate to share the cost of the investment and that will mean ability to use the gate will not be gated.

      Why is it ok to pay to the 7 Null-sec overlords as part of the T2 item and ship cost, but not in form of a fee for using a service?

    5. The Seven Lords of Nullsec have no say over what I do with T2 materials after I buy them.

      Having to bend knee to one of the Seven Lords means that my play style, which system I'm allowed to enter, what content I'm allowed to participate in on the other side of the gate, is dictated to me by someone else.

      Null-only PCSGs will end up being a different style of renting. Flying T2 ships is not renting.

    6. What SHE said.... in spades. No I will not PAY anyone to access a Stargate to other systems in an Intersolar Spaceship Game!!! Are you effin kiddin me?? If something THAT idiotic happened there would be a lot of solo, casual and small gang players who really would protest with their wallets... which I am sure would please, or be ignored as :pubbies: by a large majority of Coalition members, IE most of Nullsec's population.

    7. I get it now. That is something that could/should be formulated as a design goal.
      The controller of the stargate should not be able to dictate the gameplay of the users.

      I think it actually leads to way more interesting interactions and gameplay. The dream should be player controlled Empires and not player controlled military camps. I think the biggest roadblocks on the way to this dream are the abysmal support for NRDS and the culture of the player base being destruction focused. Maybe the first one will get some love with sov rework.

      On the other hand, what is motivation for investing huge amounts of resources into a stargate if people think they are entitled to freeload on that investment. Well, maybe the is an option for the High-sec ones be NPC owned and controlled even though the resources from the construction would come from the the players.

  6. I think it comes down to a hard business decision, not a of philosophical one.

    My guess is that they ran the numbers and concluded that in the long run, a large alliance account is worth more than my solo lowsec account. I could venture a guess as to why, but it's not particularly relevant to the discussion. What matters is that CCP has to keep these core customers happy, or they are done as a company.

    This means that their priorities are likely to be 1) new features that keep large corps and alliances occupied 2) new players, to be funneled into these corps and alliances and then 3) the rest of us. As Jester said, it doesn't mean we won't get anything or that they don't want our money. It means that we'll see fixes and features as a side effect of CCP taking care of groups 1 and 2 first, then it'll be our turn... maybe. Here is a question, though. If large alliances build star gates and move to the promised lands, what happens with the current null?

    1. Andreas, read my next post.... its a numbers thing... and they are betting on a long shot. Unless keeping only 5 to 10% of your customer base happy is the safe bet. I know of no business where that model would make to to a presentation... much less get a vote.

    2. Oh... and do you really believe the CFC et al will move? Nooo.. they will push hard on the MMO threadnaught on the Something Awful, Reddit and Broski forums and EXPAND into the new space... filling them with player who don't give a CRAP about CCPs vision, CCP or ANY of the other players.

    3. Like you say, it's a numbers thing :). If the new space is lucrative enough, the big guys will move and leave current Null for the plebs to squabble over. If not, they'll stay put. I doubt CCP would patch in a huge feature like that and not make it worthwhile for their core audience (famous last words).

      As far as 5% - 10% customer base goes, you're right. Normally, it wouldn't make it to the presentation. The fact that it did makes me think that either these 5% - 10% are footing a substation portion of CCP's bills or there are some crumbs there for the rest of us. We'll see, I guess.

      Looking forward to your next post!

  7. Hi and thanks for asking so directly. I do mean it when I say that the vision is a journey for every capsuleer to be part of. I want EVE to have more things to do for small scale groups and solo pilots - and all over space, not just in null sec. When I talk about player control, I mean the effects players have on each other all over space - in different ways - not just the null sec free-for-all - and I don't mean that the null sec model should be extended to everywhere. I know it can be hard to hear solo and small groups in the vision when for a long time "player driven" has mostly meant nullsec and huge corps and alliances - and I got some questions along the same lines in the vision roundtable at Fanfest. But both small groups and solo players are very imporant in the design work we are doing now and to our vision for the future of EVE. First project where this should be visible is the corporation and alliance system work we are starting after the summer - that will look deeply at small and medium sized groups, including corporations where all characters belong to a solo player. Stick around for that and give your input! /CCP Seagull

    1. @CCP Seagull
      I cannot begin to express my thanx to you for taking the time to actually answer what you had to know was more a meta-post to stir the pot than any kind of 'real' question... I never expected an answer. I am honored and flattered... and really well pleased to boot.

      Now... you do know we're gonna hold you to this? Right? =]

      Thanx again.

    2. Encouraging words - thanks for taking the time time reply, Seagull.

  8. Tur, the longer we are in the game the more we will be heard - They will especially hear us when we finally make it to Fanest. :) I know AINeumann and myself are especially lucky to have you as a voice to the outside world. Also, I love seeing our home (wormhole space) being protected and fought for because in the end if that gets nerfed then I don't know what I would do. Thanks for getting the word out amigo, especially since you know I like to be the silent type that just presses F1. Continue the advance my brother. For Hiigara

    "Tuto Fuge Ridenti - Fly Safe Die Luaghing"

    1. Truer words were never spoken my friend... That's a pretty big part of why I started this whole blathering on the interwebs thing I do... =]

      And yea...I do it for you guys... my sons and co-directors... and the best and truest friends an man, or father, could possibly ask for.


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