Archive for July, 2010

Sharks with Frikken…Maps?

Posted in EVE Online on July 27, 2010 by cailais

Quite a few blog posts back I followed the “meme of the moment” and post up my travels across EVE to date.

Today whilst ambling through the dusty corridors of the interwebs I came across an interesting article in New Scientist.  I say interesting because it focused on some recent studies into social behaviour and utilising technology to track and potentially predict the movements and habits of people;

“This study builds on earlier work in which Barabási and colleagues used cellphone data to explore the patterns of human movements (Nature, vol 453, p 779). There they found that individuals generally travel lots of relatively small distances, but occasionally take long excursions that move us to very different territory. The precise details of the statistics of such movements follow a mathematical pattern – known as a Levy flight – which turns out to be closely linked to the ways animals such as deer, bumble bees and birds forage for food. Mathematically speaking, our movements turn out to be strikingly like those of other organisms. So we’re not so special, at least in this regard.” – New Scientist

Now this study focuses on a mere 50,000 individuals.  What would be fascinating to see if this ‘Levy Flight‘ is mirrored in New Eden? And by whom?

Does your ‘systems visited’ map look closer to the Brownian model (below)?

Or closer to the ‘Levy Flight’? Levy Flight – a pattern of movement in essence – is generally more closely associated with “hunting species”; bees, sharks etc.

The Brownian motion is more condensed with many many short hops in roughly the same geographic area (although the entire expanse of territory covered can be large).

As a player who primarily enjoys exploration I don’t stray too far (eventually I’ll find something to investigate in any given system) so my universe map might suggest Im not displaying the same traits as those hunter species? Of course its hard to tell because the current EVE universe map only shows where I have been most – not the route I took to get there.

Hunting species of course will move in relation to the availability of prey or food source with Levy Flight being thought to be a example of when a given areas food supply is exhausted.  EVE’s resources never exhaust themselves completely – unless of course you happen to be a pirate.  So you yarr’bears out there aught to have a ‘systems visited map’ that looks rather more like the Levy plot above.

Well according to theory 😉


When worlds collide…

Posted in EVE Online on July 20, 2010 by cailais

Welcome to the nineteenth installment of the EVE Blog Banter, the monthly EVE Online blogging extravaganza created by CrazyKinux. The EVE Blog Banter involves an enthusiastic group of gaming bloggers, a common topic within the realm of EVE Online, and a week to post articles pertaining to the said topic. The resulting articles can either be short or quite extensive, either funny or dead serious, but are always a great fun to read! Any questions about the EVE Blog Banter should be directed to Check out other EVE Blog Banter articles at the bottom of this post!

This months topic comes to us from @evepress, and he asks: The CSM: CCP’s Meta Game? – The CSM, an eve players voice to CCP. Right? In the grand scheme of things yes, the players bring up issues and the CSM presents them to CCP. But in its current iteration the CSM was supposed to be given small authority to assign CCP assets toprojects that the CSM thought needed work on. As it has now come out this is not the case. So fellow bloggers, is the CSM worth it, has the CSM improved the game in any way, or is it just a well thought out scamby CCP to give us players a false sense of input in the game? What’s your take?

In this modern era we are constantly bombarded with the message that we are ‘entitled’ to things.  Advertising that tells us (or at least the girls amongst us…) that “we’re worth it”.  We’re injured at work? Not our fault? We’re “entitled” to compensation.  Our human rights “entitle” us to fair and humane treatment, the right to vote, the right to protest.  It is something that’s enmeshed into the fabric of our lives.

Its against this background that we find the CSM.  A small, sometimes disparate, group of players from EVE Online. Voted in by a small % of the overall player base on the premise that they could bring to CCP another perspective at help promote the views of the player base.

As I see it the CSM is just that, another method of communication. That word – communicate – is important here; it means a two way flow of ideas and thoughts but what it does not equate to is orders and demands. I believe (and CCP is at fault here) that EVEs players now perceives the CSM as a mechanism for enforcing the will of the “player base”.

@evepress’s question really highlights that mistaken view, let me draw your attention to a specific line:

“…in its current iteration the CSM was supposed to be given small authority to assign CCP assets toprojects that the CSM thought needed work on.”

The CSM was actually given (and only recently) ‘stakeholder’ status.  This status means in combination with other stakeholders it had that authority.  It has never had the power to assign CCP assets.  If it had surely it would be given a specific quantity of assets – e.g “you have 4 programmers and 2 designers and 160 man hours”?  It certainly cant be expected to have access to 100% of the available assets as that would mean by default that it would have over riding control of EVEs development – which it does not.

As a stakeholder the CSM has the ability to lobby for specific proposals, but that’s all it has which means it can be over ruled – other stakeholders may be given priority.  Now many on the forums and elsewhere are aghast at this.  They feel that having paid CCP their subs they’re entitled to decide or influence how that money is spent.  Again that’s patently false – your subs pay for you to play the current game: and that’s all.  You’re not investing in the future of the game – you’re paying for the ‘here and now’.  If someone turned up at CCPs HQ with a cheque for $1million maybe that status would change, but that isn’t the case here.

CCP however have, invited – free of charge – a degree of influence.  The CSM isnt investing anything other than their volunteered time – which in the hard nosed business world is not much in the way of currency or investment.  In fact, so freely available are these volunteers that we have to have a voting process to decide who gets to go!

So are CCP essentially promoting or supporting a useless mechanism for gaining player input? One could argue that if CCP aren’t willing to enact the CSMs proposals then the CSM has no purpose.

Well that might be true – up to a point.  The question we should really ask: is it better to be at the table and have a voice (even if it is not always listened to), or not be there at all?

I would argue that considering its limited cost to us (the players) the former is probably preferable – after all we lose nothing by having it in place.   Whether the CSM has delivered any fundamental changes to EVE so far is a different question but one which might answer a question of its overall ‘worth’.  However thats a simplistic approach; lets assume that the CSM has delivered no benefit to EVE to date – we might go on then to assume that the system is worthless. OR we might come to the conclusion that the elected representatives so far have not been very effective.

Previous CSM panels will of course point to issues that they believe they have influenced – although we have no real way of telling if these would have come about with, or without the CSMs input.  And that is one significant issue with the CSM – we cant judge its efficacy without being able to point to something and say “that was because of CSM X”.  And we never will.

We never will because EVEs development is a collaborative process – there’s no one individual or team that can be truly credited with anyone feature.

Of course we wouldnt be discussing this now if it wasnt for the reaction to the latest CSM minutes.  There the CSM revealed that CCP would not be introducing new features focusing instead on the future of Incarna and DUST514.  The CSM very ‘disappointed’ that its issues weren’t addressed – but I am startled that it was surprised by this.  Again the CSM had come to the conclusion (wrongly in my view) that it was somehow entitled to be in charge of the rudder of the good ship CCP.  When CCP communicated its intended direction – to sail towards new target player groups through Incarna and DUST514 the CSM went into a collective sulk.

Maybe I‘m completely delusional and it  didn‘t go that way at all, but there‘s definitely something broken in the feedback loop we have with the CSM and I will be working closely with them to enhance our collaboration. When two parties have such vastly different perceptions of the same event, something is wrong and needs to be fixed“.  CCP Zulupark

So CCP is blameless? No, not at all.  CCP’s ‘backlog’ is clearly a jumbled pile of issues with shifting priorities which, in itself would be a bad thing.  But to make matters worse these backlog issues are constantly being submerged under ‘new ideas’.  This is due in part to CCPs collaborative SCRUM management process.  By giving all stakeholders a voice only common consensus items are approved to be processed and acted upon.  For example ‘bounty hunting fix’ is unlikely to appeal to the Marketing department (no real new players there), or the art department, whilst Game Design might like a stab at it. Incarna appeals to both the Marketing department, and the art department – its not great for Game Design but there’s likely to be something for them…the result? Incarna gets pushed up the priority tree and Bounty Hunting gets squashed down (again).

CCP has clearly become a slave to its own management process – which defeats the point of a management process entirely which is only supposed to be used where it adds benefit and discarded where it does not.  Discarding a nice comfy management process is hard; they’re like security blankets for executives creating at least an illusion of control over a large company structure.  Here is where leadership and moral courage should come to the fore – although whether CCP rises to such a challenge and makes the bold decision is hard to predict.

But all is not lost.  The CSM still has a voice and a role to play in how both DUST514 and Incarna are implemented.  Right now it should be asking critical questions of how CCP intends to implement these features, what its expectations are and what the reciprocal expectations are of the players.


A future incarnation.

Posted in EVE Online on July 16, 2010 by cailais

“…….it is in essence a 3d chat room and I can’t see why I would ever use it beyond the initial “Oh lulz this is nifty” new feature moment, so I think it’s only natural I’d much rather having them work on something else”.

One random quote from a player on Incarna.  He’s not alone, many feel like wise.  But I would like to ask you to lift your eyes a moment and scan the horizon of what EVE could become…


Station Dwellers.  The denizens of Incarna, these “capsuleers” are unlike any who have come before.  Most barely move from their residencies, opulent palace like quarters in the vast stations and outposts that cover New Eden.  They are the ultimate directors and leaders of the Mega Corps, their wealth on a truly staggering scale. At the bottom of this social class they run and manage the bars, rent out corporate office space, set the prices for repair bays and reprocessing plants.  Mere ‘capsuleers’ of the type you are most acquainted with  frequent these bars, splurging their new found ISK at the roulette table or in hiring AIs to front their corporate offices.  But these are just bottom feeders compared to the Methuselahs of the Stations.

The most powerful, the wealthiest reach out with their ISK to touch the planets, funding the Mercs who drop to its surface.  They set up the Agents who provide mission tasks to the spaceborn capsuleer.  They do this because it is this ‘sponsorship’ that promotes their status on the station, determines who rules the roost if you will.  Completed that strike against the Serpentis? ISK to you, but prestige to the Station Dweller who funded it. In the wilds of Low Sec such a game becomes increasingly savage –   capsuleer pitted against capsuleer to achieve victory and win the reward.

The Station Dweller has little interest on where his name lies on a kill board. Their kills are the subtle kind.  The bankruptcy and shame of their rivals forced to give up their place at the table – forced back out to the depths of space to earn their living ‘the hard way’.   For these poor souls, used to the luxury of fine clothing, vaunted surroundings, and the power that patronage brings it is a heavy and a hard fall. That might be hard for you to grasp – after all you, a creature of space, will most likely feel envy at the sight of that faction fitted marauder? Or the kudos of flying that super capital?  But these are just instruments, they’re a means – but not the ends.  Even the heady heights of Sovereignty over a system is a joint endeavour.

Not for those who live and breath on the Stations.  This prestige is theirs alone. Perhaps you’ve met some of their future ranks already? They have 10s, even hundreds of Billions in wealth – what in New Eden could anyone spend that sort of ISK on? Simple – buy influence. Power.


Perhaps that’s a fanciful example. But what I hope I’ve demonstrated is that Incarna has the potential to be a great deal more than ‘hair cuts’ and ‘running a bar’.  In the example Ive done here the Station Dweller sets the agenda, his choices impacting upon your actions – but that might equally work the other way around.  Perhaps your actions in space have ramifications for those within “incarna”.  A system changing hands in Factional Warfare could cripple a station residents network of agents and intelligence? How much would a player like that pay to get that back?

“Verge Vendor / Costolle – System Costolle (Gallente Federation) contested by Gallente Federation: your market share of the reprocessing facilities at Costolle III – Moon 1 – Federation Customs Logistic Support has dropped 35% as a result”

If we start to consider just small conceptual idea of ‘King Pin’ players on stations, the ramifications are infinite.  And all of that means much more out there in space, more conflict, more drama.


Qualitative Easing

Posted in EVE Online on July 14, 2010 by cailais

Following the recent publication of the minutes from the  latest CSM/CCP summit much of the community is in a state of uproar / depression as it became clear that CCP was not going to back down to the ‘pursuit of excellence demands’ being made by the CSM.

For those who need a bit of back ground, the general premise is that many of EVE Onlines current features (Faction Warfare, Null Sec Sovereignty, Low Sec etc) are essentially either unfinished or becoming seriously frayed around the edges.  CCP however appears steadfast in its decision to focus its efforts over the next 18 months on 2 new features – Incarna (Walking in Stations) and DUST514 (a console base FPS).

Herein lies a difficult path.  Recognising there are only ever a limited set of resources do you;  spit, polish and improve on the existing EVE Online game with the intention of retaining your current player base and hopefully attract a few more OR develop entirely new routes to market – essentially targeting completely new demographics whilst accepting the chance that some of your existing players may fall away?

CCP have decided to throw the dice and gamble on the latter –  and its a big gamble.  There is no guarantee that either DUST or Incarna will attract their own playing population, or even a playing population from those already within EVE.  Attracting current EVE players seems nonsensical(they already pay their subs for EVE Online, ergo they wouldn’t be ‘new’ revenue) so by default both Incarna and DUST will not necessarily appeal to the current player base. Or, in short, these features are not for you.

However, if the gamble pays off CCP will have a wide and diverse subscriber base across a breadth of platforms and game types.  Arguably this might indirectly benefit the classic EVE Online MMO as CCP’s revenue increases and this may be ploughed back into hard ware and personnel to improve the EVE Online MMO.

Such a bold move is not uncharacteristic for CCP who’s flagship title EVE Online was launched on much the same premise, against significant odds for success and amidst a equally large and vocal group of detractors.  Should CCP be able to pull off the dual coup de grace of delivering both a successful FPS and the immersion of a 3d avatar experience there will be a not inconsiderable number of forum naysayers, pessimistic blogers and angry CSM reps looking astonishingly stupid.

Unfortunately for CCP it will almost certainly have to rely upon these very commentators to declare its new features a success (or an epic lulzfail) and right at this point in time few of them are sounding all that generous.

CCP of course still has plenty of time in hand to mollify some of its critics and spin up enough positive press to sow the seeds of future plaudits for its new features – but its likely to be an up hill battle saddled with a marketing department that will surely be viewed with grave suspicion by even the most ardent fanboi. As it stands now the sense of disillusioned players on various forums is palatable – some no longer even able to muster the strength to emo-rage preferring to sit despondent and beaten.

CCP has chosen the brave, arguably foolish, ‘all or nothing’ route – it’s greatest danger though is that its previously loyal customers may well chose the same.



Posted in EVE Online on July 13, 2010 by cailais

It probably hasn’t escaped your attention that the structures we form in EVE are broadly keeping the same.  Compare two different Null Sec Alliances, on opposite sides of the universe map and you will struggle to tell them apart at the fundamental level.

Both will build and emplace POS’s, both will hold sov in the same fashion using the same ships to defend them and, quite likely, the same broad alliance internal structures to administer them.  There is of course a very good reason for this – we are despite EVE’s sandbox approach, remarkably constrained by its game Laws.

For example if you want to hold sov in Null Sec System A you must place a TCU there.  There is no alternative.

This monoclonal, or monochromatic, system is rather unfortunate not least because Alliance A which looks like and is structured very much like is opponent Alliance B is not a particularly interesting conflict to watch.  Equally if there is one, and only one, way to hold sovereignty over a system is seems logical to expect there to be one (or at least a very limited number) of ways to capture that sovereignty.

Why is blob warfare endemic? Because it works. Why does it work? Because its the best configuration to deal with the singular method available to hold sov of a system.

In Low Sec space we find the opposite scenario.  There are no mechanics that allow players to lay claim over a given system and so instead a constant state of banditry and flux exists.  This isn’t to say that Low Sec is more or less dangerous – rather that it is highly unpredictable when contrasted with the relatively stable state of Null Sec systems.  Blob warfare is less endemic (generally) in Low Sec, although its successful enough that its use is easily borrowed from Null Sec warfare and applied sporadically to Low Sec.

Factional Warfare is a distinct case in that it operates a ‘contested’ mechanics within a low sec environment  for those participating. Essentially then FW operates exclusively and in isolation to the broader mechanics of EVE to a great extent although it can create some interesting interactions when applied along side the Empire War Declaration mechanic.

You’re probably wondering where I’m going with all of this?

Well the point I’m trying to illustrate that we have at least 3 separate and unrelated mechanics to govern PVP and ownership in EVE.  In their given areas they have a monochromatic effect as I’ve described above.  But what if CCP allowed a variety of approaches?

For example:

Consider if you could gain a degree of ownership in Null Sec space, but using the FW mechanic of contested plex sites? Or if you could achieve a degree of sovereignty in Low Sec space using Null Sec mechanics?

If we had different methods of laying claim to a system, ANY system, we may start to see adaptive tactics as a result.

Ultimately what I would like to see is a range of approaches that could be taken to achieving degrees of ‘ownership’.  A rather basic example might be as follows:

“Anarchism” – Player ownership of a system defined by the number of ship kills by corp in a given period. May be replaced by “Feudalism” – Player ownership defined by Planetary Beacon Markers (aka FW).

And so on and so forth.  Rather like the old ‘Civilisation’ games a corporation or alliance could change its method of ruler-ship and the game mechanic laws that go with it depending upon their need.  Build into that process a series of advantages / disadvantages to that style of ruler-ship and an inherent weakness to particular types of combat and you have a engaging and varied (non-monochromatic) element of game play.

To continue the example above the “Anarchist” ‘ideology’ requires a corporation using it to maintain a high frequency of kills over a short time span.  Its vulnerable to infrequent game play, or permanent invasion forces (e.g you get camped into a station and so achieve insufficient kills) but its infrastructure light (no heavy TCUs or POSs to fuel) and easy to exploit over wide roaming areas.

Adding a layered approach to warfare across EVE – providing players with a tool box of options is, in my view, the best way forward to addressing the wider problems of Null Sec Blobs, the limits of factional warfare and the cries for an enhanced Low Sec.


Eva so tragic

Posted in EVE Online on July 8, 2010 by cailais

Drama bombs are practically an EVE Online feature and this week is no exception.

“Today Eva “Ankhesentapemkah” Jobse was removed from the Council of Stellar Management due to a breach of the non-disclosure agreement (NDA). We are deeply saddened but feel that it was the only possible solution in order to protect the integrity of the Council of Stellar Management”. – CCP

Ankh’ has long been a controversial figure in the CSM, promoting her campaign for election on a platform of ‘carebear’ sympathies and general love for high sec.  Needless to say this was the equivalent of poking stick like objects into a hornets nest and EVEs more vocal community of pirates, griefers and general Carebear haters were quick to take up arms on the forums and much mudslinging ensued.  Ankh has hardly helped her cause by implying in her CV / resume details that she is somehow intimately involved in the game design of EVE Online.

However, Ankh’s campaign was not unsuccessful securing the second highest number of votes at the last CSM election providing at least some legitimacy to her complaint that high sec carebears weren’t being properly represented or listened to by CCP.

Whilst Ankh’s dismissal by CCP for breaching the NDA is of interest in detail there are broader ramifications to consider.  Ankh was not the first CSM member to be booted from the hallowed halls of CCP’s CSM with Larkonis being similarly thrown out for abusing his insider knowledge of a future patch to profit on the market.  Clearly with two players being dispatched opinion is divided as to whether the maxim ‘even bad news is good PR’ applies here.

What interests me is the stark contrast between CCP, operating as it does as a professional business (to make money) and the CSM as a whole which at times appears to be nothing more than a collection of petulant children throwing tantrums when things don’t go their way.

The core issue, in my view, is that the CSM is caught between a rock and a hard place.  If it has no power or influence with CCP its function is questionable.  If it does hold power and influence then its ad hoc volunteerism seems ill equipped to negotiate or deal with CCP as a company.  At least two players now have will fully chosen to ignore or outright attempt to subvert the very process and institution to which they were appointed.

Numerous blogs and commentaries from CSM members themselves paint a picture of a internally fractious and often quarrelsome group who are both arrogant and confrontational towards  CCP .  There seems to be a tangible sense of ‘us vs them’ which perhaps is born of the genesis of the CSM itself.  There is rarely any impression of the unparalleled opportunity provided to CSM members to have an open dialogue with CCP, more over the concurrent theme seems to be of a CSM getting little if any traction with CCP who are in turn reluctant to give way.

Is this any wonder? If any company is faced with a squabbling gang of customers their egos inflated to the size of a small moon by their supposed legitimacy of a ‘democratic process’ how would we suppose they would react?

It is time the CSM recognised that they are only representatives of the EVE Online community and that their legitimacy is only supported by a very very tiny fraction of that.   They are not, and should not be viewed as, all mighty game designers backed by the mob.


More information is available in the following places:

Targeting the Network

Posted in EVE Online on July 5, 2010 by cailais

You’ve probably read a few posts about the principles of warfare and how they relate to EVE Online.  Sprinkle in a few quotes from Sun Tzu or Carl Marx and you’re pretty much ready to go.  What is not always covered is the underlying foundations of these theories and, if you want to defeat your nemesis in EVE you need to know a bit about those.

Firstly, regardless of how your conflict is manifest (through null sec pvp, or on the markets), you want to target your opponents Network.  What is a network? Essentially any network is a series of nodes and inter connecting paths (sometimes called ‘ties’). Some nodes have special functions (Ill come to that later) others have no special function per se, but may still be critical.  You can examine a network quite easily yourself, just grab a pen and a sheet of paper and mark out all the members of your immediate corp or gang (if your corps very large limit yourself initially to those you know well).  Now draw lines connecting those individuals – like relationship paths.  Now expand your network to those outside that immediate group; these may not be players you actually know (e.g Dave’s mate Steve), you can also expand this to included past corps and other affiliations of players (Dave’s last corp was The Bastards).

Gradually, as this network expands, you’ll start to see paths of “interconnectivity” (e.g Steve was also an ex The Bastards pilot).  That’s pretty easy for an organisation you’re familiar with but slightly trickier for your opponents: here you need intel, gleaned from spies, forums, market trades, contracts, kill boards etc etc.  This will allow you to build up a Network of your adversary.  Now not all of the nodes in this network will be feasible targets but the ones that might be AND have multiple paths to other nodes are your critical areas.

If you’re struggling to follow this look back at your network – you’ll almost certainly notice that the most connected nodes (“betweenness centrality”) are pretty crucial to the functioning of your network.  Perhaps its a prominent FC, CEO or the guy who makes all the ammo.  Consider if you removed that node. What would be the effect? Whilst individual elements of the network wouldn’t necessarily fail, the overall networks performance is likely to be significantly down graded.

By way of an example lets say that Jim, our FC, is really well connected.  He knows where to get back up from other corps or alliances. He’s got mates with good access to locator agents, ability to build ships quick & cheap (or whatever).  Now your opponent targets Jim – he’s primary in every fight, camped at the slightest opportunity, hounded through space.  Jim is to all intents removed from the network – even more so if he ‘quits to find a better corp’. You may have witnessed or experienced this yourself – when a prominent or even just plain popular player quits or leaves your network (say your corp) a ‘failcascade’ out of all proportion can occur.

It’s worth bearing in mind that network nodes may exist in both space (a jump bridge or pivotal system) or time (Friday night) but these are usually the most obvious targets for an attack.  So if we’re not directly attacking these nodes how do we go about attacking pod pilots? After all arent these folks immortal? Well yes, but they’re also vulnerable in a whole fashion of other ways.  COAD is a great example of this – a propaganda war of epic and sometime turgid proportions.  Denying a top FC successful combat ops can seriously dent their confidence and perhaps the degree of respect afforded to them.  Morale breaking is just one example of destroying an element of the network – but it is ultimately just a symptom of that attack: not the process itself.

How on earth then do we “attack” something as nebulous as a network? Simple: with another network.  If your network has greater levels of co operation and communication and more paths for redundancy you are more likely to prevail.  Become overly reliant on a specific node (he’s our best FC!) and the loss of that node can be catastrophic.  Take for example the corp wallet.  EVE Law dictates that as few individuals as possible should have access to that wallet.  Well that is true to a point – but what it means in practice is that all of that corps financial paths lead to that one individual – if he ups and leaves (with said wallet) the effects are obvious.  Dispersing the wallet with multiple paths reduces the overall risk into manageable bite sized chunks.

Your network should be aiming to be more efficient and thus more effective than your opponents -and by that I mean less reliant upon singular nodes and more readily able to identify and attack your opponents.  Don’t have 1 propaganda guy have 10.  Don’t have one recruitment officer, have 5.

Whilst the degree of ‘betweenness centrality’ (that’s the most inter connected nodes) is important its worth thinking about the strengths of those ties.  For example if I recruited 1000 players to join an alliance tomorrow, would the resulting alliance actually be very effective? No. Mainly because the strength of the ties between individuals would be incredibly weak.  Some Alliances and even corps actually collapse purely for this reason.  Other ties are very strong but again may prove to be a point of weakness to a determined attack. Consider an alliance of two corps A and B.  Their respective CEOs know each other well and there exists a tie between them and ties from those CEOs to their respective corps.  However there exist no ties between the players in Corp A to Corp B.  Damage the relationship between CEO A and B and there are no longer any forces acting on the network to hold it together and it fragments into its respective parts.

Why are these ideas valuable? Well from my perspective they teach us one important thing and that is that the sheer scale and size of a network is not necessarily the critical consideration: which means one very important thing – numbers don’t always count.


“It’s not a game you play, it’s a life you live”

Posted in EVE Online on July 2, 2010 by cailais

Over on I am Keith Neilson Mandrill has given us a great insight into the process of the CSM in action.  It’s a great article but what caught my eye more than anything else was the ticker line Mandrill had associated with EVE;

“It’s not a game you play, it’s a life you live”

Is EVE Online just a game? (Now we have to be careful here otherwise there’s the risk of coming over all existential and we’ll all and up wondering if there are any options other than a red or blue pill, and if there’s no spoon are there also no forks? What about other items of kitchen cutlery?)

Seriously it does beg the question as to what extent we ‘play’ EVE over just ‘existing’ in it.  More importantly if its the later (as Mandrills ticker suggests) is just existence enough?

Of course EVE Online has been called many things in the past, not all of them all that complimentary – from glorified spreadsheets in space to a chat channel with some pretty spaceships as a screen saver.  Whilst these barbed comments are perhaps a bit unfair you can’t escape the feeling that there’s some kernel of truth in them.  At times EVE simply doesn’t feel like ‘just a game’.

At its worst EVE can feel like a second job; juggling corp diplomacy and finances with the same sensation of wading through thick treacle as we do in our hum drum real lives.  At its best EVE evokes the sensation of being immersed in a living breathing universe full of intrigue and ripe for discovery and exploitation.

Where the Game meshes with the Universe then EVE excels – we are having ‘fun’ whilst existing.  Where that inter meshing fails however then the resulting friction impedes our sense of fun and immersion and EVE becomes more of a frustration than a pleasure.

In some ways I think this drives at the core of what Mandrills observations refer to.  For those of us already living in New Eden its the broken bits, the wonky game play, the sometimes crippling lag that make EVE less of a life we’re living and more of a torture we’re enduring.

CCP rightly want to expand upon and widen our universe – more universe means more possibilities to engage within it (and therefore more fun).  By universe of course I don’t mean adding a few extra star systems.  Incarna for example expands upon the realisation of the universe as will DUST 514.

Mandrill’s analogy was to liken EVE to a garden:

“…in that landscape they (CCP) knew about the sick trees and dying roses and wanted to fix them, didn’t need to be told to fix them, but that there were only so many gardeners to go around; and until the major landscaping work is done, there aren’t enough of them to do the weeding”.

The trouble being that until that landscaping has been completed (a potentially infinite task) those sick trees and weeds are causing exponential grief to those trying to enjoy it.

I’m straying down that existential garden path aren’t I? 😉

The path to progress is, in my view, to design those new features with a view to fixing the current problems and communicate that to the players.

Take FW and Null Sec Sovereignty as an example:  We know that DUST 514 is on the horizon, and that it will involve visiting violence upon various worlds, the trick is to tie DUST 514 into FW and Null Sec Sovereignty in such a fashion that both these become Fun and reduce lag.  Planets exist across most of space, their structures (both planet side and in space like the Custom Office) might be vulnerable to attack?

Now if I were a developer I would make the Customs Office pretty vulnerable: I would not make it a huge pile of HPs demanding 15 dreads and a Sub Capital fleet to destroy. In one stroke therefore we have created a limited objective for smaller gangs to attack guerilla fashion. A few choice system blockades and a stricken PI supply chain in a given region and an attacking force could (potentially) starve a holding alliance of POS fuels and supplies leading to its eventual collapse.

That is just one brief example.  Much work would need to be done on the details of course, but the principal of designing in solutions could mean that CCP (and us) can have our cake and eat it.

Mandrill is in my view right in ascribing to EVE the ticker ‘its not a game you play, its a life you live’ at least up to a point. We should not though lose sight of EVE as a life we want to enjoy – an experience that keeps bringing us back for more; not a discouraging struggle against impossible odds.