Take a Few Steps Back

There’s nothing like a change of scenery to freshen one’s perspective on things. Sometimes we get bogged down in the sameness of life, and our views start to distort as we lose sight of the bigger picture.

I’ve had a number of things change in the last few weeks; the second book was published, after six months of what can only be described as a grind. Enjoyable, for the most part, but still, a grind. I left null-sec, and stood back from Eve for the first time in over two years. Yesterday, we found out our landlord has fallen victim to the collapse of the mining boom in this country and we have to move house, yet again.

None of this is earth-shaking, but it does cause one to think a little more deeply about things.

Focusing on Eve, I was interested to see the difference in high-sec space. I had heard it was emptying out, and I knew Jita local numbers were down from my trade alts occasional log-ins. But, I have to say the difference after two years is remarkable.

People are doing the same things, PVE, trading, and griefing, but there are a lot less doing it. In my home area, local is sometimes empty but for me, something I have never seen before. If I was CCP, I would be busy revising high-sec, rather than worrying about making Mittens and co. more comfortable in null-sec.

Many argue high-sec should be but a temporary staging point for more meaningful parts of the game, and I would have to agree, up to a point. I have no great desire to stay in high-sec myself, outside of the occasional break from game, like now. Once my interest in the game recovers, I’ll no doubt end up in null-sec again. But, there is a meaningful contingent of people who are happy to potter away in high-sec, making pretend money and reaching for that next ship, that next module, and so on.

I would ask this; what is the point of high-sec, if CCP doesn’t want people to be there? A small area around the starter systems would suffice, and the majority of high-sec could be passed on to low-sec and null-sec, could it not?

Of course, the struggle with reality that presents itself is that many people want to play in high-sec, and at this low-point in player population, CCP doesn’t want anyone to leave. In fact, such vast swathes of empty high-sec space could be utilized to foster new generations of Eve players, if there were such a thing.

I won’t bore anyone with why there aren’t hordes of new players beating down the gates to get in, suffice it to say CCP have missed the barn with their whole new player experience, and Eve has a population that perfectly reflects the real world’s population; it’s getting older.

With the adoption of many of the dwindling number of new players directly into null-sec and low-sec via noob-friendly corps and alliances, does high-sec really have a point anymore?

If, then, high-sec is not really needed for introducing new players to the rest of the game because, as usual, the players have done CCP’s job for them, why not make some alterations to accommodate the true care-bears and profit from their subscriptions? Why fiddle with war declaration mechanics at all? Why not just toss them out altogether?

Too much baby with the bath water? Well, maybe. But, it would fill high-sec with potential victims for the suicide gankers, wouldn’t it? With only tiny concessions made to players via such things as the end to hyper-dunking, ganking is still viable and profitable.

The problem with the dwindling numbers in high-sec is that the gankers themselves will run out of targets, and look for other games wherein to urinate on someone’s breakfast cereal. Good riddance, to a degree, but that’s even more people gone.

CCP would benefit greatly by taking a few steps back themselves. They may get to see who their real customer base is.

I’ve had an experience with this just recently. When I sat down to write my second book, I wanted to ensure it would have a broad appeal. Naturally, I targeted the American sci-fi audience. I made sure to use English with all unnecessary vowels removed, included plenty of guns, spaceships and loads of A hating B. Then, I reworked it until I was happy with it, which meant a somewhat less commercial product.

It’s selling well, funnily enough, and I assumed it was a hit with our trigger-happy cousins across the water. Until I noticed something in the charts that took me by complete surprise. Nearly all the commission coming my way was in pounds, not USD or Euros. Umm, okay…

A quick check on which website was seeing the most orders showed that amazon.co.uk was netting nearly all the orders for The Sixteen Galaxies. Now, if Amazon did not enable writers to analyze their sales in such a detailed manner, I would continue to write for the American audience, completely oblivious of the fact that the majority of my readership actually prefer their English in English.

I wonder if CCP are analyzing their player base deeply enough. Or, maybe, they are analyzing it too much, and losing focus on the forest, as it were. The PVP contingent in Eve have always been a vocal minority, and I wonder if, with so many PVP focused players now on staff, CCP is witnessing the fulfillment of their self-written prophecy; that Eve is a PVP game, and only PVP players are welcome and catered for.

It’s almost as if they saw their own statistics that showed PVP as 20% of actual game-play content, and said, “Right, that means that 80% of our customers have to go!” After all, FozzieSov failed so utterly to focus sovereignty on PVE that one has to wonder if there wasn’t some intention behind its inevitable demise.

Whatever the case, CCP cannot complain about its dwindling player base. After all, one cannot sit in the driver’s seat and complain about the car’s direction, can one?

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5 responses to “Take a Few Steps Back

  1. I actually don’t think that the whole wardeccing thing is a huge factor for most people, after all, plenty of highsec only players joined eve in the past, and the most risk averse never even joined a corp or set one up.

    Yes there are issues around new players experiencing parts of the game by accident and quitting as a result, and this is down to the new player experience and the in game tutorials being terrible.

    So coming from a different angle I’d agree that CCP should have invested more in highsec. The art changes should have been done years ago (alas the art team was all busy on ALOD), the new player experience should have been buffed in a similar time frame – they should have invested more in getting people from the tutorials towards real PVE activity. They should have fixed corp permissions to make it easier to recruit people.

    The problem is that CCP doesn’t play eve in the same way (or in the same mix) that their customer base does, plus they are invested in this idea of HTFU. They are too ready to believe that *because* people are complaining they must be doing something right.

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    • You’re definitely right about the artwork, and I hadn’t considered that, of course, the whole debacle of other games wasted so much resources in that sector.
      I couldn’t agree more that CCP doesn’t play Eve in the same way their customers do; it’s the crux of their problem. To see such a great potential game wasted due to ego and cultural misunderstanding is frustrating to the point of madness.
      I can’t agree about the wardecs, though. Indeed, you said it yourself;the most risk averse never even joined a player corp.
      I have been in high-sec corps in the past, and spoken to many others who also started in player corps there. The main issue for them is the same as it was for me; you couldn’t play the game due to wardecs. This is not due to anyone in the targeted corps unwillingness to fight, even. We all know high sec wardec corps are there to gank PVE ships, and run from any actual PVP.
      Indeed, null-sec ratter killers are exactly the same. Its not that we don’t want to fight at all, it’s just that we know we can’t win.
      At least in null-sec the gankers die, due to no protective mechanics to hide behind, outside of kiting and cloaks.

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  2. I make a habit of staying away from the crowds. I read about the miner harassment and issues with War Decs, but I don’t seem them in the areas I operate. I know there seems to be plenty of competition around exploration, and I see familiar faces who are out regularly mining or running missions. I would almost go as far as saying things seem normal – except, I’ve noticed no one seems to chat in local any more. I don’t know if it was because people would hand out bounties when people spoke, or if people don’t want to draw attention to themselves, but space over the last year or two seems far more quiet.

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    • That’s an interesting development, and due to my long absence from high-sec, one I have never seen. Why would people dish out bounties for talking in local? That’s a bit like punching someone in the face because they spoke to you or said hello. I have noticed no chat in local, whereas folks used to chat occasionally. Odd.

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      • It started as soon as bounties were introduced. It was a form of griefing / trolling. Not sure how prevalent it is now, but in a short time span it seemed to really reduce local chatter.

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