It may seem an odd title. After all, nothing is changing, is it?
The Emporium continues to try to do the square peg – round hole thing in low-sec, gankers are running amok throughout Emporium space killing things that don’t matter, and NC. and PL drop in on any fight they calculate will net them a positive kill-board. The word stagnation is tossed around with gay abandon, almost as if some people have never heard it before, and the three propaganda sites spin like laundromat dryers on a wet day, in an effort to keep their troops interested.
In reality, though, this period of malaise is an event in itself. How so? Because even when something happens slowly, it still happens. As a writer, I understand this phenomenon well. Books take many months, sometimes years, to write. Life goes on around you, while you progress through the project. Everyone else is racing through life, going from one manic crisis to the next, faces lined with stress and anxiety. The writer, though, sits and picks away slowly, so slowly. Detail after detail, you create, trim, hone and polish. But, you progress. So slowly that everyone around you is taken by surprise when you tell them you published.
I believe a parallel is occurring in Eve. CCP is picking away at the game, in an attempt to recapture what they lost; content. New ships, with new abilities, to break up the wielding of the same old formulas, and to break the Emporium – well, sort of.
CCP are writing a story, while trying not to. The whole idea of New Eden is that the players provide the content while CCP tweak and adjust to capture that evasive wraith; balance. However, the players of Eve Online are more like an evil genius than any hero I’ve ever read about. Everything CCP do, the players try their very best to break it. Unfortunately, the players have more power to break things than CCP has to fix them.
Let’s go back to the writer parallel for a minute. There are two stages to writing fiction; content creation and editing. Unfortunately, with the arrival of Amazon and e-books, the second of those two facets is falling by the wayside, but I digress. It’s almost as though there were two people in one as we write. The first is the creator, pouring out the story in a torrent of content. The second is the editor; sifting through the technical structure, order of events, flow and word use.
To get these two people in one to work effectively, certain conditions are required. Quiet surroundings, clarity of mind, and total focus. CCP is the writer, whether they like it or not. The players are reactors, not actors. At the end of the day, everything the players do is a reaction to what CCP write for them, and that is unavoidable. Unfortunately, CCP do not have the conditions necessary for quality writing.
They have made mistakes, many of which they haven’t even acknowledged, let alone remedied. The biggest one, in my opinion, is the employment of players as developers. This has shaken the writer’s environment, to a degree which means their clarity and focus are muddied. They make changes to the game which promise to shake things up, only to later back down, or worse, just walk away from those changes.
Now, many would protest that CCP need to listen to the player-base, that this has been their mistake in the past. However they have gone too far in the other direction, to my way of thinking. For a start, how many are they truly listening to? The CSM election would indicate that very few players are truly engaged in the betterment of Eve Online. Of course, there are those like myself who don’t acknowledge the CSM because we see it as a waste of time and resources. Still, the numbers indicate it is but a tiny minority that have any interest in the CSM, or the improvement of the game itself.
The other issue CCP have as storytellers is a quiet environment to provide true focus. They are busy with multiple other projects which, while exciting and new, do not promise any improvement for the state of Eve Online. Rather, the investment of large amounts of capital in the VR projects require a lot of CCP assets to ensure profit for that investment.
CCP are not good writers. In fact, they are the worst people to be writing. They lack the very qualities one needs to finish a quality product; patience, focus, and, most of all, commitment. CCP are terrible at commitment, and they always have been. The dedication needed to produce a finished product has always eluded them. new releases are kicked out the door, along with promises of iteration, but the iteration seldom arrives. Bugs persist for years, and I get the impression many will simply never be fixed.
My greatest fear is that they are unconcerned about the awful state of the game, because they have their hopes pinned on VR gaming as the future. Perhaps it will be. But, if it is, then bigger studios with much bigger funding and much better focus will watch CCP and companies like them do all the hard development work, and then trample them underfoot when the public acceptance pivot point is reached.
I did research and development work for a number of years, and that is how the game is played. Why do R&D at all, when the real money is in the copying of ideas once they reach a profitable level? CCP may not realize it, but they are to be used. If they really think they’re going to clean up big by being at the forefront of VR gaming development, they have set out to be screwed over twice. Once when their VR developments are taken off them by the big boys, and again as they see that Eve Online has been neglected to the point where it will no longer support the company.
They may think New Eden is a cold and dangerous place, but they will soon learn that the real world makes New Eden look like Equestria.
So, the winds of change are a gentle breeze, but the ship is moving. It’s just moving so slowly that hardly anyone notices. The question is; is the ship headed to safe harbor, or to the rocks?
Well, there’s only one wheel on the ship, and CCP has full responsibility for that. Let’s hope that at least some of them are watching ahead of the bow, instead of at the clouds above.