Saturday, 11 January 2014

Day 575: BB52 : EVE Mentality

First of all. Happy New Year New Edenites!

Now we've got that out of the way, let me piss you off with an answer to Blog Banter 52 that is long winded, faintly boring, sandbox-violating shocking, unsubstantiated supposition based, and incredibly ill thought out. I'm subverting the BB52 somewhat to get something across that I've been thinking about. I'm shooting from the hip here, it's mostly unresearched (bar a couple of opinions) so take care. It's not like I'm Jester or anything.

and...... on with the show.

BB52 concerns the apparently static concurrent account log in stats for EVE based on the EVE Offline graphs
For the past four and a half years, the graph has hovered around that 30,000 mark; it is, for all intents and purposes, a plateau. But everything must come to an end sooner or later and that is what this blog banter is about.
What's on the other side of that plateau?

Is there any path for CCP to follow to raise those numbers upwards for a sustained period, or is EVE going to enter a decline to lower logged in numbers from this point? How soon will we see an end to this plateau? Months? Years? Or will you argue that 'never' is a possibility? Or you can look at the root causes of the plateau and tackle the question if it could have been avoided or shortened if CCP had taken different actions in the past.

Also, what would EVE be like with an order of magnitude fewer or more players?

I took off northwards for most of Christmas and New Year. Some subconscious level of planning allowed me to step lightly between long skill trains so it's been almost fun grinding out the 20 days of Drone Interfacing V, for example. Fun. Well, no, not really. Not in the sense of fun exploding, not in the sense of fun playing. More the fun sense of the potential once completed. The same old EVE trap. The planning and scheming are the fun bit. Waiting for the skill queue to catch up is the boring bit but I've a multitude of other plans and a main in Brave Newbies where things like hilariously out of whack killboards are born . I've many fingers in many pies.

However this is the same trap that causes new players, in fact ENCOURAGES new players, to log off once the tutorial is complete. The friends I introduced to the game both got bored with the ISK grind (mining initially) while waiting for the skills to go do something else. There were other issues involved but it's the same symptom as later bittervet log off time. Almost everyone leaves EVE at some point for an extended period. It's a common thing. EVE can be working away for you behind the scenes but you don't feel there is a point to logging until a skill train is complete.

Now you are going to say a couple of things

1) Why not PLEX some ISK

2) There are things to do with a small amount of skills

Firstly PLEX. A big draw of EVE to game players is the lure of earning your game time. Not all players feel this of course but it's a thing. The ISK to cash ratio. A lot of players grow weary of the Real Money cost of battles being shown but it never fails to intrigue the gaming press and their readers. New players are less likely to want to spend more cash on ISK that they feel will soon vanish. Some new players do. They possess an EVE mentality.

Secondly, things to do. There are loads of things to do but there isn't a structured way of doing them, there isn't a reason to do them beyond interest. Gamers are lazy by and large. They want their content on rails if they can. Not all players are like this. Some posses an EVE mentality. They scheme and plot on multiple levels. What can I do now? What can I investigate? How will this contribute to my long term plans in some way. Scheming, invention and patience.

Notice that I haven't mentioned that EVE is hard. It is, but this is a draw. I don't think that EVE being too difficult causes most new players to leave. Tough games are good games. Certainly EVE being difficult doesn't cause older players to leave.

This EVE mentality isn't too common in the gaming world. Why should it be? We live in a world of being entertained rather than entertaining ourselves. Perhaps there is a finite number of gamers, a percentage of gamers as a whole, who have this EVE mentality naturally. Perhaps it's about 30,000 at any one time, new gamers with the natural attitude replacing old hands who've moved on.

What does that say? Has EVE reached saturation point within it's audience? If true, then EVE will take it's share of the gaming community and continue in equilibrium. There isn't anything that can be done.

Actually there is. I refer to the EVE mentality above as a natural thing, a talent. What if this talent can be trained? What if can become a skill? What would the training programme be like?

The training programme I envision follows on from the tutorials. It's an extension of the New Player Experience. It violates the sandbox slightly. It needs to. We are training people to think differently and that requires some guidance. Some rails. Some pushing.

I would allow some kind of grindability of level 1 and perhaps level 2 skills that have no prerequisite. I'd provide faint rails for the rest of the theme park playing work. I'm not mocking here, I still like theme park games and their content even though all of my gaming time vanishes into EVE. I'm currently enjoying the posts on where a return to Warcraft is under way. My time vanishes into EVE even when I'm not logging on. From EFT, EVEMon skill plans, spreadsheet work, hammering plans into Trello (I'm not kidding) and in the future coding my own tools.

Back to grinding skills. In a recent thought experiment Jester proposes doing away with the skills I'm looking at in order that new players would have them immediately. I think the skills are valuable for immersion reasons and more could be made of them. I think these skills should be open to being learned more rapidly by actually doing stuff in EVE. We can take the mechanism from earning this experience from the various Achievement systems in theme park games which cause players to do all manner of random things in order to fulfil a vanity type goal project. Often this takes a lot of planning and time. It always draws you out into the game world. Ask anyone who has gone after the various mount acquisition achievements in Warcraft for example. So, aims, planning, patience, less linear content than a normal experience grind. Sounds like a good grounding for an EVE mentality.

Interesting aside: Whenever I say "planning" in regard to EVE players, my mind attempts to insist I write "scheming". What does this tell you about EVE players? Or me?

Some examples of tasks that might advance skills. In each case you'd give more points for doing this in low and even more in null. I guess we should be aware of the potential for older players gaming the system with their alts.

Afterburner : complete a full orbit of a station under afterburner in a system with more than 30 players in it. Only applies once per system

Navigation : points awarded for each system visited where the player does at least two things from a list of, for example, docking, visiting an asteroid belt, visiting a POCO. You could give extra points for visiting landmarks. See for details...

Warp Drive Operation : Award points for merely warping through systems. Give hardly any for hi sec. Get the player to fly to distant and more dangerous places.

Resource processing skills : award the player for mining, refining and building. Get rid of those ISK generation skills out of the way faster but give the player a sense that they are doing something rather than waiting.

Scanning skills : award the player points for finding things, especially where it is more dangerous to do so

Social skills : award the player for missions but award them far more when completing objectives in a fleet. Perhaps award more points for the specialised roles. Get some players flying fleet logi on day one.

You see where I'm going with this. Feel free to suggest more while you deride me for suggesting breaking the sandbox. I lay claim to the name Active Skillpoint Acquisition System, pronounced "ass-ass". Because I'm just in that kind of mood. What I want to see is a new player join the game and in the tutorial system say "Hey, I'm going to fly as far as possible, anyone want to fleet up and do Social and Navigation SP at the same time?". Stuff like that.

Not everyone would develop an EVE mentality from this. Some would pass from the game after they had completed the tasks. Others would however be exposed to the other facets of EVE that it is difficult to plan to do when you are thrown in the deep end and forced to climb the legendary skill cliff on the way out.

What would happen if this caused a slight rise in the graph. What if there was a slow but steady influx of new players remaining longer? There would be more people in space. When there are more people in space things become more interesting for other players. More people log in to see what happens. Organisations develop around these players. You can imagine the EVE University course for skill point acquistion now. What I'm thinking is that some active plan like this will not only cause an increase of new players but will have a secondary effect of reactivating older players who haven't logged in for a while. There is stuff to do. This being EVE there are also people to do.

If all this fails? I think the equilibrium will persist as long as EVE continues to evolve and attract enough attention from the gaming community. New players with the EVE mentality will succeed older players leaving for all the reasons they do.

Hurrah for unsubstantiated opinion!

What I'm really interested in is the question:

"Did you ever introduce a real life friend to EVE who passed the tutorials but then left EVE for good? What were their reasons for leaving?". If you know where this has been asked, point me at it!

EVE Track of the Day

Experiment Number Six, Lemon Jelly


Faction Fit Pod - Steady As She Goes
Sand, Cider and Spaceships - Eve is in a Coma
Roc's Ramblings - The Other Side
Golden Crusade - What's on the Other Side?
Warp Drive Active - Falling Down
Freebooted - Homeostasis
Eveoganda - The Graph is a Lie
Morphisat's Blog - Over the hills and far away
Inner Sanctum of the Ninveah - Limits
Life on the Bubble - Art of War Alliance - Enjoy the Ride
In Local, Everyone Can Hear You Scream - There Is No "Other Side"
Mabrick's Mumblings - Causalities of War and Industry
Evehermit - Are we at the base of the mountain, or on top of it?
Pilgrim In Exile - The EVE of the Future
Oz Ox In EVE Blog - But Will It Tick?
Fua Consternation - Just another day as an astronaut
Jester's Trek - Another way of saying "never"
A journey through the mind - Flogging a Dead horse
A CARBON Based Life - Live Fast and Die Young, or...
Mad Haberdashers - Most Plateaus End In Cliffs
Diaries of a Space Noob - EVE Mentality
Khanid Kataphract - Living Space
High Sec Carebearing Extravaganza - The Other Side
The Ancient Gaming Noob - A Horrible Community



  1. the game needs more 'basic' or 'civilian' modules. actually, they need to eliminate that confusion right there in the names. pick on FFS and stop confusing n00bs.

    would that eliminate the waiting?

    well, not unless CCP does something to improve a n00b's understanding of how best to fit their n00b ship, frigates and destroyers.

    I read somewhere that CCP coded in NPC (starter corp?) fittings...if the tutorial could steer n00bs towards this it might do a world of good in the 'not waiting' department...especially if they coded more civilian/basic modules.

  2. intresting approach. the skills-as-the-result-of-work schema applied to eve

  3. Just remember with the active skill point acquisition that you'd have to worry about bots or EVE could turn into Darkfall v1.0.

  4. Hmm. I'd forgotten bots, I was more concerned with Malcanis Law and the worth of gaming the new system. Would it be worth botting? I can't see what they'd gain from it. It doesn't generate ISK in anyway that you wouldn't already use unless you consider building up characters to sell through the Bazaar.