Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Toeing the Poverty Line


I do love writing responses. Obil tweeted the above to Ali and I reference a post he wrote musing about income problems. I promised him I'd write a response and why not? We are talking about ISK. The heart and soul of so much of the game.

I'll start by saying that you can absolutely do things in Eve without ISK or with a very small amount. Many of us think about empire building and wars when we think about what we will do with ISK. There is also a lot of thoughts on optimization. I know I'm not the only one with a dream ship and perhaps a dream fit to go along with that ship. But there are plenty of people who spend their time exploring the world of Eve Online and it is a very, large world with plenty to do with very little ISK.

But, we're talking about ISK. Qbil says:
What if the problem with the new player experience is simply that the new player simply cannot earn enough ISK to fund their gameplay in a short enough period of time to retain their interest?
This was one of the main areas that I disagreed with him. He has a very valid point about the plight of the poor newbie. But, what is enough ISK to fund their game play? There are two problems here.

The first problem is that what is affordable game play? A new player is not flying billion ISK battleships and blinged out T3 ships. The game play that they are going to struggle to afford as a very new player in PvP. And PvP is a consumptive lifestyle. It never becomes affordable. We simply earn more ISK to replace our losses.

We actually have affordable PvP to a certain extent. T1 fit frigates are not expensive. The problem there is not that the ships are not affordable it is that the chances of that new player winning in them is very low. That, is what I think we see more than anything else. The need to have more ISK to buy better ships and better items to fight above ones skill points and personal skill while using the base abilities of the ship as compensation.

This is also where having a corporation comes in. Eve is an incredibly hard game to play alone. It can also be a hard game to play with other. It does tend to go better if one finds a reasonably competent group to play with. While the game does not reward group play which is something Qbil touches upon, group play does tend to improve the game. Be it standings, working on harder content, or just having backup. We all say that we need to funnel new players into corporations but so far we have not come up with a great fix that will allow us to do that.

The second problem is PLEX. I'm not talking about the current price of PLEX. What I am talking about is that Eve is developing a culture where minimum wage is a PLEX per month. It is becoming an ingrained assumption when it comes to finances. We need to not ask 'what does it mean to be rich?' in Eve but instead ask 'what does it mean to be poor?' Eve has developed a poverty line and the PLEX is that line.

I'm also looking for the point where the game threw away the concept of creating or gathering what you needed and wanted out. Opportunity Cost is immediately thrust into my face as an explanation. Yet, I just wonder where that whole fun playing the video game getting and making your own stuff part fell out of Eve. Why people are insane for thinking about it by popular knowledge and reason.

I've wandered a bit off topic. More engaging PvE is important. PvE that functions properly with groups (scaling up and down with them) and PvE that can be played cooperatively, intuitively is a goal that we need to reach. I've remarked before that new players assume that if they accept he same mission they will be in the same mission together. Not in Eve they won't and that is what I would label bad complexity.

It's long been my stance that a better PvE experience will improve Eve deep down into its core. While I can't join the PvE team and the NPE team and make them happen now, I'm trying to do my part in the CSM and help bring some of the quality of life changes that we can.

I've wandered a bit off course but it is a large topic with plenty of room.

29 comments:

  1. I think the trick is to change PvE so that more of the PvE that's out there either can only be done in groups or where there's no drop in payouts if done in a group without also forcing too much grouping for those that don't want to.

    Currently, we have Incursions that fit the bill exactly and Level 5s that meet the criterion of requiring a group.

    I honestly don't think there's that much that can be done to increase player retention and keep EvE as EvE. Go too much down that road and EvE becomes like every other MMO out there. EvE appeals to a very narrow niche of players and CCP knew that from the start. It would be nice if it wasn't so much of a job at times, but that's only true if one is plexing.

    Yes, grouping up increases retention, but not absolutely everything must be super efficient in terms of isk. I've fleeted up to run level 4s just because it was a group activity. I've done mining ops even after 2 years playing just because it's a group activity. It was hideously inefficient, but it was fun :)

    There are things we can do to improve the NPE, like making it very clear that EvE is unblike every other MMO and that the designers really mean it (the little pop-up we get now doesn't do that).

    But, honestly, I'm not sure what else we can do. If we just give out more isk, then we encourage inflation and cheapen accomplishments. At the same time, a huge part of the problem is longer-term EvE players. I can't tell you how many times I've heard older players with massive piles of isk deride anything less than 100m Isk/hr as being not worth it. Or they describe T2-fit T1 battleships as 'cheap'. Or there's the even worse part, where these players then deride any other player that can't make billions of isk/month as a rank amateur and major idiot.

    Perhaps we could do a bit more handholding during the NPE, especially at the end by giving new players a bit more direction than "now you know the basics, the universe is yours to enjoy!"

    The fundamental problem is that most of the potential new players 1) don't research how to succeed in the game, and 2) they expect EvE to be the same as WoW or SWTOR or every other game out there.

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  2. "Is changing PvE to promote corp play the answer to NPE retention?"

    I would say the answer to this question is no. I joined this game because I heard it was a sandbox. Not a corporation sandbox, not an alliance sandbox. Not a militia sandbox. Just a sandbox.

    I understand that a lot of new players are drawn in by content created within the game itself. The extravagant battles in asakai and B-R5RB. What is a new player ultimately going to contribute to these events? Nothing. If he could even play through the ti-di he'd find his atron/slasher popped more than likely unless he's a passive observer.

    What of the twitch streams of solo/small gang pilots, roaming through the vast solar systems racking up ridiculous kills drawing members in? Well, this is somewhat of a pipedream and becoming even more so with the changes to faction frigs and plex mechanics. I read a blog recently about a gentleman that started a new alt account with this very thing in mind and had extremely limited success, and he himself was a decent solo pilot. What is a newbro supposed to do here?

    All that's left for the complete individual new to the game is PvE, and the mechanics seem to be shifting in the direction of cooperation.

    So the new player is forced to blob. Where is the sandbox in this? I am to understand from your blog posts in the past that you exhibit a streak of independence, it's part of the reason you were drawn to Low Sec. When you are left with no choice there is no freedom, only the illusion of it. This is not the Eve I signed up to play.

    Peace,
    Southpaw Hardin
    Southpawhardin.com

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    1. What is a blob? THC2 took me in at two months of age. I started with just gender, llLue, and Diz. I was in a corp. I had help. It wasn't a blob. It was still damn hard.

      I took my start and I've tried to promote improvements so that newer players can have a better childhood. It will still be hard and I'm okay with that.

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    2. Southpaw makes some good points, you're being too defensive,remember the stats say that player retention has been correlated with player interaction. This is not the same as players being forced to group or join a Corp in order to achieve anything.

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  3. I'll chime in on the PvP bit of that. You hit the nail square on the head.

    In most MMO's PvP tends to have progression as you get bigger and better you get placed in an arena with other bigger badder people, not so in EVE.
    There's only one arena, New Eden, and we're all in it together. On top of that many PvP'ers in New Eden don't progress in ship size. Frigate Jockeys are athing :)
    So here you are adorable 900.000 SP nublet flying your equally adorable meta 4 fitted Atron and you wrap into Kaeda Maxwell in his rifter (which everybody (wrongly) told you is bad) and 3 seconds later you ar dead, you ardly got a shot off.

    Why? Not because you fit wrong or did anything wrong but you ran into 100 million SP fully T2 fitted thousands of frigate fights of experience wall. You never had a prayer. And you propably didn't have any fun you just died. And frankly neither did I have any fun, because I too would have much prefered a fight over simply pulling the trigger.

    Now EVE isn't designed to be fair and neither do I want to advocate that, but it is painfull that the smallest most afforable ships are actually where skill points matter the most. Frigates have no margin of error, you mess up you die any margin you do have is because of supperior effective SP (sp that actually applies to what you are flying) as a nublet you'll never have any. As a weathered frigate vet you'll mostly like be all V's in any frigate you fly.

    Cherry on top, the veteran can afford to lose 10 mil frigs all day without a second thought the rookie can not. So not only did he never stand a chance to begin with, the loss actually hurts his bottom line.

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  4. A comment from a newbie with about 1 month of playing experience, but who read quite a lot about Eve in that month and is inactive since 2 months already apart from skill training: I don't see the problem in "you don't have enough ISK for your gameplay". I think people mistake ISK to be fun. If you invest time in the right things, you'll earn enough ISK to progress. The problem that I see is having fun WHILE earning ISK.

    The Missions are rather boring, probably with the exception of the Storyline Missions. And as it was mentioned already: if I find someone to do the missions with him, there's no group reward, group challenge. If anything we need less time, but that's no proportional with the shared reward. I experienced this problem both for missions and for exploration (I had an exploration buddy in the beginning because of the spew mechanics). Mining I haven't done much myself, because it already it seems to be boring as well if you don't do it with someone else, but at least it's the only thing that certainly seem to have a benefit when you do it in a group. Several other things simply aren't suited for newbies (headhunting, industry, research, ...) - trading? Well, making ISK in trading is the reason while people consider Eve to be work.

    To me, that's the problem. Things often only make fun when being with a group, but the things you can do don't scale with your group size. So there are two things to do in my point of view:
    1) Make the activities scale with the size of the fleet! That should be easy to do. Stop forcing me to loose ISK if I want to have fun.
    2) Make the one-player activities more interesting! I loved the spew mechanics and the hacking mini game in the exploration thing because it required me to know which containers to catch and I had to split attention between D-Scan (exploration in LowSec in T1) and the spewing things. Result: I had to have a skill that was totally independent both of ISK and SP (both of which translates into looong time) - and opposed to PvP (Kaeda is absolutely right here) I have a chance to succeed. Same with the mini game. Introduce more such games inside the game, more variation! More things to learn about the world before you master them (e.g. invent some geological facts about asteroids that you can use to wield more ore - something to do while mining!).

    My best Eve moment: chasing an exploring T1 frig out of a site with my own T1 frig (a total bluff: starting drones and AB and heading towards the other guy and he flew - I'm not sure I would have stood a chance in a real fight). Why was it brilliant? Because it did require neither ISK nor SP nor years of experience, just an idea.

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    1. You'll do fine :D

      Now just add weapons so you can actually shoot if they do call your bluff (or in fact cease bluffing and start intending space murder) and you're set for a long and prosperous lowsec career.

      Stealing sites and running sites while armed to the PvP teeth is how most 7-2 makes their living ;-)

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  5. Ishtanchuk FazmaraiJuly 10, 2014 at 9:10 AM

    Lots of stuff... let me bullet point it:

    - scaling rewards along with the number of players will break havoc on the economy unless the maximum gain is capped (picture 1,000 Goons rescuing the Damsel 23.5/7...)

    - improving the NPE is a dead end for retention. Currently, the only way to succeed in EVE is meeting the right people out of semi-random choices and sheer luck. Randomly meeting the randomly right people (as who's right for a player can be the wrong crowd for another) can't be scripted, guided nor developed. What's up to players it's up to players, and what's up to developers it's up to developers.

    - if EVE is a sandbox and players influencing players, ALL playstyles should work that way, PvE included. Who performs a PvE task, why and when should impact other players. And ideally the PvE itself should be created by the players. I already suggested a way to implement that, a few times.

    - losing in PvP rarely teaches anything else than to avoid PvP. It's too expensive and often too fast, one-sided and hopeless to learn a bloody thing with the loss. If EVE was not EVE, lossless arenas without rewards (No Gain No Loss Arenas, or NGNLA) would be a solution. Gain nothing but risk nothing, just PvP for fun, for practice or to die in a thousand goofy ways with the worst fit ever... but that would be TOO FUN. Who would bother with "true" PvP if he could just have fun for the sake of fun? NGNLAs would kill EVE lightning fast. But even carebears like me would have a blast with it... XD

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  6. Sugar, thanks for replay (I'm recreating this from memory as my first attempt was lost in the interwebs)

    On thing that comes to mind as I have been reading this reply and the replies of others, is the aspects of charity in regards to new players. In looking back on your posts, you have commented before on being generous with ISK to players who have experienced loss. I have also found myself on the giving end of ISK to someone who I have recently ejected unceremoniously from wormhole space. I did not want my spaceship violence to be the final word in their EVE experience. Group PvE as it exists today is nothing if not forced charity. It requires players to give away part of their earnings to play with others. Perhaps it makes up for some of it in the time to completion but it does not certainly reward or enhance the game to cooperate in PvE.

    I think my comments on ISK were headed in the direction of unexpected losses and the time needed to recoup them. Certainly in PvP, as you mention, players expect to lose ships and those ships are not exorbitantly expensive though as others have noted, it could be a huge percentage of a persons wealth just starting in the game. Even PvE players expect loss and the adage of "don't fly what you can't afford" will certainly crop up here. But it isn't necessarily about what you can afford as how long it takes you to afford it and what you have to do to get it back. As BigBob mentions (all hail Bob!), a large part of PvE isn't very engaging or "fun" in many aspects. I think back to another Tweet I had made that you picked up on (https://twitter.com/STRXP/status/481422447263354880) which was a stark view on PvE distribution missions. But there is also unexpected PvP that players encounter from ganks to stolen mission rewards that will set someone back significantly in their early days.

    It is perhaps too easy for those of us on the other side of the NPE to think that players that do not stick around simply aren't the "right player" for EVE. But did we reach where we are simply by being the right kind of player for EVE or were we simply more persistent, received enough charity at the right time, or otherwise did so despite the game. How many good players are we missing because they simply cannot bear the early days of EVE, encountered a rash of bad luck and couldn't bear the time it would take to recover, or otherwise never saw the aspects of the game that make it fun for us.

    But returning to mechanics, and as Ishtanchuk observes, I also wouldn't expect enhanced PvE content to scale appropriately with player count. It would have to be balanced both for reward and risk to scale up as additional players are involved. We have yet to find a great method, as Sugar mentions, to match players with corporations to take advantage of such PvE. No amount of matchmaking or "share my mission" type features would work well in the sandbox. Instead, perhaps the method is simply to provide the carrot in the form of enhanced, scaling group PvE that will draw people to corporations naturally. Right now, we have too much of the stick...

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    1. I'm a big believer in more options that create more pathways for people to learn and do things.

      I hope I don't come across as saying, "you are wrong!" ISK is important but I somethings think we have made it too important and discount other methods of doing things.

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  7. There was an initiative within CCP (a few years back when WoD development was still alive) to redesign the mission system, and possibly the whole PvE stuff. Any news on what happened to that? Was it scrapped with WoD too?

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    1. It's in the plan, but as with many things at ccp these days they're re-working the back end first. The pve content that is in the game now was all done "by hand" which is why there's so little of it relative to other mmos and updates happen so rarely. Recently the CSM was allowed to say that they were shown the content creation toolset that is being made.

      It's a good bet that future pve stuff will encourage or maybe even enfore some type of group interaction -- though maybe not just cooperatively. Like the industry update, missions might get some passive competition added.

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    2. Ok, but what i'm talking about was like 5-6 years ago. There was an announcement that a team is working on redesigning the whole PvE and/or the mission system. Since then i haven't read a word about it. If they worked on the tools and the designs during these years, then the new mission system and PvE content should have been introduced years ago. Or it only bear one fruit: Incursions?

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  8. Wow, talk about opportunity costs. Using Heritic Caladari’s admittedly high bittervet 100 million ISK per hour minimum acceptable pay and a current PLEX price of 800 million ISK yields 8 hours of space labor to escape the PLEX poverty line. Alternately, one can purchase a month’s game time for $14.95 US. That’s only slightly over two hours real life labor at the US $7.25/hr minimum wage. Choosing to real life labor your game time nets you a bonus four hours vacation per month (48 hours/year.)

    There’s nothing inherently wrong with calculating this way but I must say that the underlying theme is disconcerting as the entire measurement system is based on minimizing disagreeable labor rather than partaking in pleasant recreation.

    There is a central puzzle at the heart of Eve where death, to have meaning, is unpleasant and that unpleasantness is produced via disagreeable recovery. Little wonder we keep approaching so much in game as wound in need of mending rather than as agreeable pastime.

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    1. I think I a calculation that I spent more in Mt. Dew to stay awake to play EVE to earn ISK to get PLEX than I did just buying the PLEX

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    2. I think PLEXing is more of a status symbol than a need. After all, if you buy a good amount of game time, it's $11 a month, so 1 $9 movie+2 Pops a month.

      Sjaandi

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    3. I've never paid isk for plex unless I was investing. Plex/game time is simply to cheap in terms of money, and too costly in terms of play time. Heck even when I was a waiter in college I could earned enough in a hour to pay for a month of game time. One extra shift of 6 hours would have paid 6-12 months. I've never understood grinding for Plex unless you are enjoying the grind....

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    4. the only reason i like PLEX for subscriptions is the expiry in days given in the upper left of the login screen

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    5. Ishtanchuk FazmaraiJuly 11, 2014 at 2:55 AM

      Why PLEX your account?

      Well, what else can you do with ISK? Even in my last times, when I spent more time chatting than playing, I would easily make 1.3 billion a month from mission running alone. With PLEXes at 600 million (those were the times...) I could PLEX two accounts... but, what else coud I do? Earn more ISK? I'm not money-greedy not even in RL.

      Buy more ships? Yes, I certainly would do that, but skilling up for a new ride would allow plenty of time to save the ISK (I leveled BS V for two races, FAI).

      What else?

      I recall how Jester quoted a steam reviewer who summarized EVE's ultimate goal as "making money". And that's quite true unless you want "power" too...

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  9. You can make 10s of millions of ISK as a newbie. All you have to do is:

    1) start the Industry career path to get your Venture, then;
    2) wait for your mining and Mining Frigate skills to train up a bit, then;
    3) start Cash Flow for Capsuleers and mine out every mission.

    It sure would have been nice to have known that when I started (though, I started before the Venture, so I would have been nibbling on asteroids in my cargo-expanded mining Navitas, which I don't miss at all). I remember wondering why the Combat mission was called "Cash Flow for Capsuleers" when its payouts weren't any better than any other mission's--it never occurred to me, as a new player, that the interface would hide useful things from me, in this case asteroids from the default overview. You don't even have to mine everything to get 20M ISK, which is a decent cushion for starting out (and a sanity-restoring fact if you run out of reading material).

    ISK does not intrinsically mean fun, but there are certain kinds of fun (the risky kinds) that are only really possible with a cushion of ISK. How big? Well, that depends. If you're flying T1 frigates into low sec exploration complexes, probably not much. If you're flying shiny pirate battleships into Incursions--even high sec Incursions, probably a lot (even in high sec things happen, and shiny pirate battleships are expensive). Your ability to replace losses is a hard gate on the kind of fun you can have.

    So: new players can make a lot of money, but the means either require OOC skills that many people don't have (trading, arbitrage) or they require knowing the contents of the NPE before you start it, and being willing to watch your Venture orbit a Veldspar asteroid for hours.

    As for missions, it took me a long time to realize that "solo" didn't mean one character, it meant one player. People blitzing missions in times I couldn't hope to achieve were doing it by dual-boxing shiny Machariels, which my old vanilla-fit rail Megathron had no hope of rivaling. They were getting lofty numbers by rage-declining missions that weren't optimal, which means that they were familiar enough with the missions on offer that they knew what to decline, that they were familiar enough with agents to find one with a good portfolio, that they'd worked up the standing to do so by *not* rage-declining and, that they had cooldown periods where they had to work their standing back up. They cashed in LP, which means that they'd done a relatively significant amount of market research and probably invested in tags to cash out some of the items, besides also accumulating the in-character and OOC skills to ferry high-value cargo to the nearest trade hub, plus likely some trading skills to get favorable prices. All of which complexity disappears when summarized as "you can make 100M an hour running L4s." And mind you, I'm absolutely not complaining that there is complex emergent gameplay coming out of high-end mission-running, just pointing out that veterans forget how much they take for granted when they talk to newbies.

    There are shortcuts, of course. Corpmates can tell you about good missions and good agents, and give out hints about how to get value out of LP. They can show up in their Machariel and help you mow through a bunch of hapless NPCs, letting you keep the rewards because they don't need them. But this only kicks in once you've found people you want to fly with, assuming that you want to find them.

    I'd probably start by looking at the default overview, L1 and L2 missions, and--not to put too fine a point on it--EVE's social interfaces, especially corps and fleets.

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    1. thanks for the hard work put into that comment. Sums up the complexity facing mentors when it comes to explaining the many how-tos

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  10. We already kind of have increasing rewards for players in WH space with Capital escalation. If you can survive, there is a lot of money to be made from it. What if security missions worked similarly (maybe have a separate class called Team missions if we want to keep the old system) where the number of enemies increased with the number of players. Then add stacking penalties to keep from having a directly linear increase in the reward amount (because 2 players are more than 2 times as powerful, because of focused DPS or logistics). Then have a reward system similar to this (based off the current stacking system, but could be easily modified):

    #Pl Stck. Pen Tot Rew Rew/Player
    1 1 1 1
    2 0.869 1.869 0.9345
    3 0.571 2.936199 0.978733
    4 0.283 3.767143 0.941786
    5 0.106 4.166461 0.833292
    6 0.03 4.291454 0.715242

    Disagree? How would you do it?

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    1. Sorry the formatting didn't keep. Apparently white space isn't kept. I'll comma delineate:
      #Pl, Stck. Pen, Tot Rew, Rew/Player
      1, 1, 1, 1
      2, 0.869, 1.869, 0.9345
      3, 0.571, 2.936199, 0.978733
      4, 0.283, 3.767143, 0.941786
      5, 0.106, 4.166461, 0.833292
      6, 0.03, 4.291454, 0.715242

      Sjaandi

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  11. Wow, and then the original message disappeared, replaced with the above. Weird. What I was trying to say is, what if we had escalation (similar to WH Capital escalation, where if additional players warp into a mission, the bounties (and/or rewards) increase? It shouldn't be directly proportional, since the more players the more powerful the force multipliers, but what if we did something like the current stacking penalties? The above table shows this idea expressed by the:
    Number of Players, the Stacking Penalty, Total Rewards (where 1 is the original amount), and Reward Per Player as a decimal.

    Agree, disagree? Do it differently?

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    1. Obviously including more enemies spawn too... Not free money

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  12. I've posted these ideas before, so I'll be brief. :)

    I advocate:

    a) More viable small ship pve. Small ships are fun, but the earning potential just isn't there compared to farming lvl4s in a battleship.
    b) Options (not mandatory) for viable endgame PVE via grouping. The mechanics of lvl4s have always benefited the multi-boxer solo player; let's rethink that a bit.
    c) Giving more headroom to the existing PVE options, so that folks don't "level up their raven" and quit, having mastered their profession w/o needing to interact much with others. This means more PVE content in general, which could be a combination of (a) and (b) or some other tangent entirely.

    Is it "THE" answer to player retention? No, but it could/should be part of the overall solution.

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  13. "Is changing PvE to promote corp play the answer to NPE retention?"

    NPE retention depends on having easy access to experienced corporations that have mentors smart enough to be able to have empathy for the NPE (the ability to get into another's shoes), and also the understanding of opportunity costs the NPE can absorb reasonably.

    Changing PVE is in a league of it's own and irrelevant to the basic problem: No mentor "smart enough" is going to open it's doors to the NPE because of corp fratricide (neutral RRing, theft, awoxing, safaris, griefers who'll smack talk like it's the mining channel)

    The basic corporate infrastructure is based around the idea that corp members love to shoot each other without repercussions, love to steal, cheat, lie and basically take full advantage of the shitty poorly worded counter intuitive and mysterious mechanics in the main social engine CCP gave us (since beta)

    BTW, regarding changing pve to boost corp involvement, sounds eerily like the call for ISBoxing twats to reap the benefits claimed as good for the NPE. So, yeah, i call bullshit.

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  14. "Is changing PvE to promote corp play the answer to NPE retention?"

    I think it might be part of the solution, but not the whole, and PvE has a lot bigger problems than just how to integrate corp play. I think EvE needs to become a GAME not the meta machine that it is now. Too much focus is about the social aspects of EvE and not the GAME part of EvE. Where's the immersion into the world of EvE? Where is the player being engaged? Right now, the player has to ask an agent for a mission, then every 15'th mission they get an "important" mission that is probably just as boring as a normal mission. They send you an eve-mail, and make an icon blink....BFD. There are no random encounters that steer you to other encounters, that escalate to story arcs, that result in you having fun unless you go to areas that a newbie wouldn't be expected to go (and survive). And even then, once you've done it once, you've done it a thousand times.

    The EvE universe ITSELF is too static, and I'm not talking about players and their universe known as The Meta, I'm talking about New Eden and the four empires, and the pirate factions. How is eve supposed to be real if NOTHING EVER HAPPENS unless you ask for it to happen?! That's what makes PvP exciting, and PvE could benefit massively from; the unknown events that tie you to the agent or faction that immerse you into the world you just decided to try living in and making a difference in. All the while, offering opportunities to share that immersion with other players. Opportunities that can lead you to joining their corp, and getting involved in their activities and their narrative, that then lead to The Meta world at the players own pace.

    I guess what I'm really asking for is that CCP treat PvE as a vessel to promote ORGANIC personal growth into our world, not as simply being a method of income generation to fund other activities. This organic growth starts on an individual level and grows through random convergence into corp level, and eventually alliance level.

    -Baljos Arnjak

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  15. As a new player, I can say that there are a ton of hurdles to get over but I don't believe not having ISK is one of them if there is something to do, but it could be. The much larger issue is the ISK inflation, where it will eventually be impossible for newer players to be able to fly effectively even tier 1 ships due to opportunity costs of the raw material to build them. It's obviously not possible for a day one character to mine and make their own ships, so what do they do?

    Having done the tutorials, then sitting on a character for 8 months not playing, I can tell you there is little to do until you join a corp. I was going to do Factional Warfare, but I didn't understand the standing issues and what that would do to me long term so I did not. Joining a highsec corp is hard due to AWOXING alts posing as new players. Something should be looked from this way, in a huge way. No sane person who knows noone would start a game they feel like they can't do anything in for even two weeks while their skills are "training".

    What is CCP teaching new players to do? What is their vision for the new player progression? I can assure you that it is not obvious from a new player who knew nothing. I did hours of research, tons of searching and asking when I hit this wall, and the only thing I came up with is "sit on the character and hope a friend can get me into their corp by vetting me in". I'm not going to go out and mine, I don't have the skills to do much else for money yet, I can do PI but no one pays $15 a month to garden twice a week, and when I do get the skills I won't have the income to be able to actually go out and do it for the most part because there was nothing for me to do while I was waiting. With out a jump start from a friend, and more importantly, with out getting into a corp, I would have quit long before I ever truly started playing.

    The poverty line, to me, is more of a real life poverty line or an in-game rich line. If you can't support your game play with dollars, or if you have enough to blow on in-game time; that's all that the PLEX is. You destroy some of your fun if you're doing nothing but trying to PLEX your account(s) instead of really playing. It's resource optimization, if you enjoy playing and skipping two lunches or a weeks allowance to pay for this, you wouldn't care how much a PLEX is, it's all about how much an ISK is worth today vs tomorrow.

    In order to get new players, keep new players, it has less to do with PLEX ISK prices because a new player isn't able to PLEX their account anyway. It has more to do with what they can do UNTIL they are space-rich and can blow billions on their account(s) instead of $15 (Two hours of work max, zero ISK risk), which is easier to get than the 800,000,000 ISK (> 8 hours for the not already established, ISK risk). There is a problem in this region based on the game play and progression, and it might as well be a newbie filter that is catching most players unless they are referred by the space-rich and given some help. WoW does a great job at this because of instancing and progression and new content. EVE doesn't have a good place to join and play with other noobs that is safe and given the meta game of EVE it makes it very hard to even start due to AWOXING and spies.

    I would be interested in seeing the account age of monthly paid players based on address or credit card number (to reduce multi-account holders) over time, similar to a population graph. This is really how we can determine how much effect all of this is having on the new player base and how many are quitting or staying. A good game should be expanding or at least stationary when looking at a "player" pyramid, but I have a feeling that it is contracting based on my experiences.

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