Monday, July 18, 2016

Blog Banter 77 - It is a sad thing, but one day the universe too will end

In this month's blog banter the question is basically, "Do all of these signs point to Eve dying?"

The simple answer is, "Yes."

But simple answers rarely do anything but make for quick reading.

Over the last four or so years, I've been very invested in Eve. I've pondered it personally and socially. I've flipped through the public's responses to it. There have been ups and downs but I was always positive that Eve would continue on forever.

That was the fan girl speaking. The rational is that it will not last forever. I don't think it will be some dramatic ending as someone bashed the server racks with a bat and CCP places the company logo on a boat and shoots and flaming arrow at it while it floats into the sunset. I think that it will be a gradual thing and as long as it continues to bring in money it will stay alive. CCP may stop developing it but there are many games that continue on with productive lives years after their development stops.

Eve's population is aging. We are proud of it but with aging comes problems. As I pondered this topic today, I realized that I know a lot of people in Eve that are like me. They don't have children. They don't have huge family connections. And I wonder, how many of us are there? Sure, we're a reasonable population but at the end of the day people have lives.

I once had a long discussion, in which I was looked at as if I am crazy, where I said that I believe one of the greatest reasons Eve does not have a large female population is because women are still most often the family caretakers. I was looked at funny for that does not go along with the narrative that Eve is full of woman hating evil and every female is chased away and there is no other reason but this.

Yet, time is so valuable. In January I got Intuition. He is eight months old this week.


I have so little time. I work 12 hour shifts. I've worked them for a decade now. In October, I got a lateral transfer with better hours. I work 1000-2200. I get home, tend the puppy, make dinner, play with the puppy, change and shower, walk the puppy, play with him some more, stop him from chasing the cats, harassing the other dogs, stealing tomatoes from the counter, and find I have no more time. 

Eve's greatest weakens is also one of its coolest features. Eve takes up a lot of time. I cannot sit down and dedicate four hours to the game. I have to get up. Make dinner. Prep dinner. Tend the puppy. Water the plants. Put clothing in the wash. Do dishes. Make more meals (I'm baffled by how much time keeping food on the table takes when you make all of it), tend the dogs, tend the cats, try to sleep 6 hours a night.

The list goes on and time in finite. I just don't have it to give except now and then. Only, Eve isn't a now and then game. It isn't a game you drop in and hop out of. It is a game that leads you down the rabbit hole and unearths you six hours later. I think that is wonderful and I also think that many people cannot commit to it.

There is not enough individual stuff to do in the game. PvE has been pushed aside for so long that I wonder if it can recover. The developers that have been handed the task are talented people. But, a decade of neglect must be overcome and as I watch plans shatter, and shatter, and shatter again I wonder if it can be done. People may kick and scream that Eve is a social game and it must be played with others but the simple reality is that people need to be able to dangle their feet in the water and enjoy a cool drink and the warm sun instead of committing to a triathlon every gaming session.

That is what makes it unappealing. That is when you decide if you want ti log in for the thirty minutes you have to spare just to get moved to a position to hopefully start an activity the next session. At some point, adulthood comes knocking and it demands its pound of flesh in sleep. Contrary to popular belief, many internet gamers have relationships and those people, tolerant they may be, want some time too.

And then there is the fact that the players are fanatics. Dedicated, obsessed, in love, Eve players defend their game. They obsess over CCP. There is a commitment that is loud and clear inside of the games community. It is a very loud sound, but new people are not being retained and older players drop off. Time, exhaustion, other commitments... they all take their toll. And toll fees do not spawn from thin air.


28 comments:

  1. wow... I love ya Sugar, I do... but I read this wondering where the time came from in those first halcyon years? It's not like there was more day in the day back then. You had time then, you found the time, with pets, and food and work... then.

    I have a family. Wife and five kids, from 33 to 13, two still at home. I have a FT job and an 18 year career in IT. I have other hobbies... I own a 22' sailboat I love to work on it and go sailing on the bay. I have a Jeep I do all the work on (replaced the waterpump and got it back on the road just tonight) I love to take my family 4 wheeling... these are some the demands and hobbies I have taking up my time...

    Oh, and I play EVE and I blog about it too. And I believe EVE is changing, not dying. Sad to hear you, of all people, say that.

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  2. Tur - I'm not sure Sugar said EVE is in the midst of dying soon. She said it would die - as you would expect, when it stops making money.

    A lot of what you said resonated with me Sugar.

    Not only do you need time to play EVE - it really needs to be uninterrupted time. Having primary school aged kids means I don't tend to get that.

    With limited quality time to play EVE, I would like more / fresh solo and approachable PVE content that I can just come and go from. After years I am bored with the static and unchanging PVE content available. Most of the newer stuff is for higher end group play, which is not suitable for those who are quality time poor. The Events do help - but they can feel too much of a grind, and I am not sure CCP have quite got them right.

    It is tricky though - being fully subjective in how you view EVE after playing for a long time. I've been thinking lately that maybe I am not really getting / understanding the game anymore, and my concerns don't reflect most players.

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    Replies
    1. At one point I suggested long term goals which could be completed in short time slices; like 50 hour tasks doable in 50x1 hour slices or even 100 x 30 minutes slices. And yet we've got The Great Nolifer Grind instead, with only 10 top prizes worth the time an effort and worthless crap for those without the time to grind the cool stuff in the safety of deep null.

      PvE is not just backburned, it's in the hands of inept developers who don't even talk to PvErs... or talk to PvErs and then do an excellent work to ignore their words.

      EVE PvE un-development is totally divorced from reality.

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    3. I do know she meant in time... but the overall tone of her piece is, well, quite negative. This from someone who used to be one of the most positive forces I had ever seen "for" EVE.

      And I remember her posts from the years before the CSM... I met her, IRL, twice. I think she is a fantastic person, at least what little I got to know of her.

      Yes, things are changing, so? What else is life but change and evolution. Yes one day the servers will go dark, but I personally believe that even if we are on a downward curve, we have years yet and some of what it happening in EVE is till interesting and fun.

      I just hate Doomsayers and negative people. I have no problem with discussing possibilities of either rise or fall, I just hate when good people get bitter.

      People like Angry and Vince Snetterton... two people who attitude and opinion I, and the game as whole, can do without.

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    4. I suggest you not to read Sion's latest piece at TMC, then.

      TL;DR: CCP has backburned EVE and is milking its playerbase to fund their VR projects.

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  3. Everything ends, of course... But right now, I'm seeing more people in space, and, anecdotally, it seems like more new players as well. Eve's got some time to go before she shuts her doors for good...

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  4. I would dispute that Eve provides no 'quick fix' play options. Due to real life unpredictability (damn emergency pager!), I've always searched out and exploited niches that one can easily up and walk away from with little harm (soloish Industry, Market Maven, *slowly* building/repairing standings via low-sec courier missions, skill point farming . . .) The question isn’t whether such niches exist – they do – it’s whether those niches appeal to you. Asking for the type of intrigue provided by a six hour rabbit hole drop but accessible via 15 minute blocks might be unrealistic.

    I suspect CCP is aware of changing demographics. Still, in typical CCP fashion, they don’t always adapt in quite the way we expect like, for example, providing quick fix options connected to the Eve universe but not happening in Eve Online itself. Eve Gunjack (though I haven’t played it) comes to mind.

    Maybe it’s a Viking thing. Those crazy Icelanders continually aggravate me and yet I can’t help but love them just the same.

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  5. I know for sure that CCP's lack of plans for people like me, expressed in the "Crossing the Rubicon" open letter and the evolving details of what has become the Rubicon development plan, 2013-2018, was the last nail in the coffin for me.

    First, I don't think that EVE will ever die. As long as someone can set up a "Tranquility in the basement", the game will go on and on, well past its commercial life, and past the point where its cost are affordable for CCP.

    Yet that's not a game anyone has played ever since 2004 or 2003. Can't even imagine it.

    Yet also I don't think that EVE is going in a healthy direction. A sandbox is what people does with it, and CCP is backburning what most of the people does with the sandbox. And those people, they are not very involved with the game. They don't start blogs when the old ones go silent, they don't (and can't) build empries of their own, they jsut fill the ranks of the old organizations or play the "wrong" way.

    Some people think that the ease to "play wrong" what leads into EVE decaying, bu it's th eopposite. Playing EVE "right" has become more and more difficult, the entry narrier is inmense (you must outsmart and outknow and outwit people who'sb een doing the same for 10 years, profesisonals of eVE!)and all that's not under the clasp of veterans, is ignored. Backburned. Second class citizenship for filthy causal inmigrants. There's no power to seize, and if it was, would be seized by power-seizers with 10 years of expertise.

    Thus the new players are not as involved. They fall into little niches that don't feed great passions.

    And CCP only caters to highly passionate people in the highly vissible niches.

    CCP takes care of their friends, but most people giving money are just customers, and those customers are getting a worse experience than the ones 10 years ago, even 5 years ago.

    The post-Incarna children don't have a dream to dream of EVE. What is to come, is the same already in game, just with different mechanics and assets. And veterans will rule it.

    What one can do beyond that, under the radar, new player o veteran or ex-player, is the same it was 2, 5 or 10 years ago. Dungeon PvE is beyond old. Highsec is beyond old. They stink, and there are no plans to plan a future so people keep playing and waiting for it. It's Rubicon or else.

    By pleasing the initial colonists and their newest minions, inmigrants are handed a second class experience. They don't learn to love EVE, don't grow a passion.

    They leave and they don't really care. It's just a game, and an old, unfun, boring and often wicked one. And there's like zero plans -zero chance- that this changes in any foreseable future. Not until 2018 at least.

    That's the future. Doesn't looks pretty.

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  6. Thanks Sugar, for these new words! Please visit us more often with your commentary :)


    I like where they are going with the mechanics of the current Event, even if I have felt left out by the grind aspect of the 10,000 point goal-posts. I participated far more in the previous fairly simple Events, when it didn't have that aspect hanging over it.

    I think the event system is a trial of a more procedural mission system, witness rewards that can take into account the ship type you take into a mission, paying you more if you can complete a challenge in a less-capable ship.

    Sov, Citadels and Capitals took a lot of time and energy, Industrial Arrays are next BUT not as arduous to implement now that the heavy lifting is mostly done.

    If there are 100 things that could be improved in EVE at any given time, CCP only seems able to bring sufficient resources to work on ~5 of them in a given period (I say the same thing about other companies and large projects.) CCP's focus should of necessity and by process of elimination, shift towards other neglected areas in the next year or so. Its just frustrating if you're... frustrated by a feature you'd like to like better, "if only..." That's when other games start to look more appealing. I can talk the team-sprit talk, but some days I just walk ;)

    BTW citadel explosions are extremely cool. Props to art department. ( As long as it's not yours doing the exploding ;) )

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    1. I'm not sold on the new event. It rewards nolifers who can grind them for as long as needed and punishes casual players who can't even hope to get a Big Prize thanks to RNG magic.

      Also, I've read silly stories of people tasked with killing Drifters in a cruiser??

      PvE looks like it's in the hands of developers who never ever talked to PvE players. Thus PvErs get shit like Burner missisns and Drifter incursions and so, when all they could use are just 100+ new dungeon-missions, maybe even thematized with whatever is the PvE lore. That would turn better, cheaper and more effective than tinkering with broken IAs and rewarding nolifers for their commitment to grinding PvE 24/7 in the safety of blueball nullsec.

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  7. I wonder if there is a path to devolve expectations for EVE players. The expectations of what to achieve in one sitting need to scale down as we grow into different parts of our lives. I would like to hear about hwo to play "small, local EVE"

    The problem is, "if you are not out there working, someone is out-working you." That is ok for a while, but getting comfortable with not keeping up with the rat race is hard to do - it feels pointless.

    A recalibration of what is success is needes, and becasue of the way our brains are built (diminishing returns), I don't know if scaling back is possible for most.

    That said there are plenty of people who have played for years while rasiing kids and holding down careers. They take breaks when needed and have found ways to schedule what they do. They delegate, or don't bother with the small stuff - like perfecting or optimizing a process.

    I, at some point, want to slim down to one character, sell everything, including researched BPO's and use the ISK to coast - like retirement. PLEX and coast, keep EVE small, and let the news tell me about the epic adventures of others out there somewhere.

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  8. I always love hearing your thoughts, Sugar.

    It's a trick to balance EVE with real life; some weeks, I do better than others. But I do find myself preferring to keep it at arm's length, because that is where it feels like I can choose to play and not be compelled by duty to play.

    For a few reasons (awesome leadership team + good folks in staff positions, mainly), I am almost always able to log in, dangle a toe in the water and enjoy the sunset even with a 700-person corp buzzing around me. I rarely partake of EVE content besides relic sites and they are quick and easy to do. Otherwise, I attend to admin details as needed, engage in some roleplaying chats/events sometimes, and try not to feel guilty that others choose to do more. This is the balance that works for me and offers reasonable value in exchange for my subscription dollars. It's all about choices when it comes to the sandbox and those choices are as individual as the people playing.

    By the way, in an article I wrote about the women of EVE for EON Magazine years ago, quite a few of the women I interviewed cited juggling of family and job responsibilities as a probable reason more women did not get invested in EVE.

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  9. Yet every suggestion in the forums that point to provide quick gameplay (without necessarily neglecting the rest of the game) is met with the same "go back to WOW" angry responses from the immobilist veterans.
    Take this feature for example, that tried to address the "lack of time" problem for PvPers: https://forums.eveonline.com/default.aspx?g=posts&t=375485
    The angry responses from the conservative "This is MY Eve, not yours" players end up ditching this and many other promising ideas.

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  10. When people say: "EvE is Dying"
    what they mean is eve is dying for them.

    CCP Soundwave clearly said during an eve vegas,
    that eve can survive with a minimal sub number keeping it on life support only, no new iterations on stuff.

    Just look at Ultima online or Meridian 59,
    However CCP now being owned by 3rd party capital venture investors,
    the likely hood of Eve going down the path of EverQuest could be more likely.
    source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/EverQuest

    Regards, a Freelancer

    ps: invest your mmo time in others to imho, transcend it all.

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  11. Everything that has a beginning has an end. - The Matrix Reloaded

    Honestly, I think it's a mix of "being busy" and having your sense of satisfaction/interests drift over time. My life is just as hectic now as it was 10 years ago, but am (in general) far less invested in EVE politics and corp-running and keeping up on patch notes and whathaveyou.

    But today, I play EVE on vary narrow terms in which I can jump in, get a quick fix, and jump out whereas 10 years ago I was spending 4-8 hours per night pushing tritium around, running a corp, and contributing to an alliance.

    I could, as I did then, shove everything aside. But there's a price to that. We moved in 2010, and as I packed up the contents of my garage, I found a ton of half finished projects. All the packing slips were dated 2004 and 2005 (height of my EVE career and the launch of WoW). It was like that scene in Aliens where the Colonial Marines walk through the deserted workspace with half eaten donuts and a cup of coffee. One day, I'd just stopped going out there.

    Since 2010, I've intentionally played with more self-imposed constraints.

    As far as EVE's health, only CCP can say. I suspect that overall, the situation isn't very rosy. But, thanks to a dedicated core playerbase, on its own EVE could run for years and decades to come. But EVE doesn't run on its own - CCP tries experiments in other game titles and invests scads of treasure trying to get another hit. So EVE must not only withstand its own slow decline, but also survive in the ecosphere in which it exists. Which of course, despite a long string of investors, also has a sketchy history.

    So while I /COMPLAIN/ about the lack of developer focus for things I'm interested in, what I /WORRY/ about is the financial paper mache, twigs, and bailing wire that's holding it all together.

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  12. "Only, Eve isn't a now and then game."

    Eve is pretty hard on people who just want to casually play. CCP is constantly changing modules and ships and mechanics. And often the new ships make many old ships obsolete (t3 destroyers) Most of the changes are good but it does make it hard to stay up to date with the game.

    Nothing against any of the csm but they tend to be people who obviously are willing to commit huge amounts of time to the game. It is difficult to see how they will ever represent players who are fine paying 15 dollars to get about 5-20 hours of play out of the game per month.

    "There is not enough individual stuff to do in the game."

    I agree there is not much. For me, ogb killed solo roaming. Incursions even artificially require you to get more people. Faction war occupancy (which I think is the most obvious candidate for a casual player) remains garbage. Requiring larger groups just means eve will require more real life.

    But all that said. I still can play eve casually and have fun with it, my expectations are just adjusted.

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  13. My wife and I effectively stopped playing EVE when our daughter came along. Tried to come back, didn't work. Some people may be able to keep EVE at arm's length, but for many I think it is an almost all or nothing proposition, and there are times in one's life when no matter how much one loves a game it has to go by the wayside.

    I love EVE. My daughter is very much a child of the game, seeing as how my wife and I first "met" in a newbie corp chat. But equally she is now the focus of so much of my former "play time" - and really, that is how it should be.

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  14. Eve doesn't have to be played in four hour blocks.

    I played eve in short daily bursts, doing industry and PI. I know that's not a lot of people's preference. You could also set a time with your corpmates when you know a fleet will be undocking, and pre-arrange to have someone sell you a ship ready to fly. An hour or two with the fleet isn't a hard thing to arrange once a week.

    You could also run missions with friends, do AFK mining (I know, not much fun), or just undock and explore/fly-till-you-die. See what happens!

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  15. Hey Sugar. I've been meaning to pop into comments to respond to some of your articles. At one point post CSM (and leading upto) you seemed really down - with good reason. What I wanted to say at the time was: please stop beating yourself up over this experience and focus on the positives, but honestly didn't know how to phrase it without coming across harshly and upsetting you further. It also seemed a bit condescending given you can probably pull yourself out of it without being poked. Anyway, this is a good article for various reasons and I hope it being picked up and bounced around by others isn't causing you any stress.

    But for what it's worth: you did a good job as a CSM. I didn't realise you had those work commitments as well, so I'm not surprised you got tired out towards the end. Despite being quite reserved over foruming you did a fantastic job with that reddit AMA. I haven't spoken to anyone in lowsec who has complaints about you as an advocate for them - they sing your praises. CCP and fellow CSMs have come out and said you were one of the hardest working CSMs on record. You did exactly what we asked you to as a player delegate - but some of the issues in the wider meta are just too much for one person to resolve. But you have the respect of a broad spectrum of those who can make a difference, and it's a shared effort anyway. You're not sat here talking to yourself, and your comments can make a real difference.

    I hope you will keep playing. I hope you will eventually look back on that CSM period and spot all of the things you managed to achieve. Thank you for your work on the CSM and the time you put into your blog discussing these issues. I have a feeling if you focus now upon the issues and solutions with a bit of distance, and talk to similar minded people who want to get things changed for the better - you'll be able to make an impact that suits you. You already have, but this part might be more enjoyable.

    All the best :)

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  16. Sugar,

    Thank you. Glad to see you posting again. I was afraid that the community (who are EVE) might have broken you; hile hoping that you were only being tempered. I am happy to report that I have found my EVE mojo refueled and hope to see you in space.

    SLy

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  17. Eve is what you make of it. There were times when all I could do for a few days was juggle the skill queue and industry stuff. Then there was days where I could be logged in, but had to be ready to log out at any given moment. Those were the days I just wandered through the many channels and hoped I didn't get hooked into a 'long conversation.'

    Some of my favorite days were spent simply running courier or mining missions alone, wrapped in the silence of late night when no one was talking... Those were the nights when I wished I could shut down star gates and make a system mine for awhile... Just me and the rocks, slowly surrendering themselves to my mining lasers...

    There are times that I miss it and fire up Endless Sky for that courier mission fix...

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