I’m going to talk about Captains Quarters (CQ) and CSM6. Bear with me, the two are not unrelated.
CQ, the first iteration of Incarna has come under some criticism for straying from EVE’s well trodden path of ‘internet spaceships’. Many wonder what purpose it can serve in the game – a seemingly pointless pile of eye candy. For EVEs current players there’s some truth in that, but that’s not the rationale behind CQ or Incarna. CQ are for the new player; it will be the gate, or decorated archway through which a player transitions from reality into the world of New Eden. Ever noticed that? How many games, notably MMOs, have you enter into a game through a transition? MMOs are much like stories, and as many writers will tend you, in order draw your reader through a story your lead characters must likewise move through ‘door ways’ from Act to Act. The characters of fiction are pushed through these doors – from their normal hum drum (and boring) lives into life changing and often life threatening events.
So it is with the Captains Quarters.
EVE, despite its moments of brilliance, is in player terms something of a leaky bucket. New players join but, all to often, fall off its vertical learning curve. You can view this quite nicely at the moment by reviewing the old topics from the EVE Online Forum and noticing how few avatars have updated pictures: those are the departed players of EVE. Most new players quit within the first six months and its small wonder as they struggle through the complexities of this amazing but manual free game. CQ aims to smooth that process whilst still instilling that sense of amazement. Perhaps, like me, you can recall undocking in EVE – thinking ‘hey space is pretty big…’, only to open the universe map with a ‘holy crap this game is massive.’ Consider that from the perspective of a new player who goes from their CQ, to their hangar view, to a system and then to the universe map. The word ‘depth’ probably doesn’t do it justice.
Appreciating how a new player might view EVE is difficult for both developers and players – which brings me rather nicely to the CSM. The CSM is hailed as being a collective of experienced vets who know what’s best for EVEs future. Or do they? Despite vast experience, perhaps of Alliance Warfare,null sec politics, or market manipulation these veterans of EVE are quite possibly the least qualified to speak of a new players experience or aspirations. Much has been made of the usurpation of CSM6 by the power block of Goon Swarm, led by The Mittani….
Some have decried the methods used by this Null Sec power block, and fear the repercussions for EVE should the ‘bees’ choose to bring the whole edifice crashing down. Whilst there might be a risk that the legitimacy of CSM6 is spoilt by the Triumvirate of The Mittani, Seleene and Meissa Anunthiel (other observers discount the other candidates as little more than The Mittani’s hench men) its worth remembering that the CSM really only works as a sustained pressure over time on EVEs development – instead of a sudden shock; tidal forces rather than tidal waves. Those who hope for instant results are likely to be disappointed. What will be unfortunate is that if the Triumvirs don’t get a quick impact they will want to “expose” the CSM as an irrelevant sham – which is rather to miss the point entirely.
There’s little doubt that this CSM6 will produce not a small amount of drama and controversy (the nectar that all bees love) and some will get caught up in that but I would personally caution about getting that wrapped up in the detail. Because, as the empty avatar pictures of EVE show time moves on and players move on. This is just one CSM amongst many, just a handful of players amongst thousands. In the not too distant future new players will be emerging into their Captains Quarters, blinking in the bright lights and marvelling at the universe beyond and by then the Triumvirate of CSM6 will be a short and largely forgotten footnote in EVEs history.