Thursday, October 6, 2011

Winter is Coming

CCP, Sun and Stars

So as time marches on this ridiculous pace CCP has set for itself, winter heralds a few things for the majority of us.

While not being as ominous as in George R.R. Martin’s Game of Thrones; after all I’m not about to be invaded by frozen zombies for lack of a better description. There are some certainties that I’m forced to look forward to. I am going to be snowed in. I’m going to have to drive on shit roads. I am going to be cold. And sometime before Christmas I’m going to have decisions to make. Not “what do I get my adorable niece for Christmas” kind of decisions, but a more earth shattering gaming type decision looms for me, especially since I’ve started this blogging thing.

Keep playing EVE Online or scrap it for The Old Republic.

Going somewhere CCP?
It’s no secret I am a huge Star Wars geek. And like all of us Star Wars geeks, we can quote all of Empire, know the stats behind the AT-AT’s, own various items like 3 inch figures (I have scores of dark side figures, if you must know) and stupidly expensive lightsaber replicas that look so real you’d think flipping the switch in a bar would cut arms off.

To say I love Star Wars is a bit of an understatement. I also have much love for Bioware. How could you not? The Knights of the Old Republic games were fantastic except that little bug at the end of the second one when you are going dark, dark side. I still haven’t finished that game. This is the company that did all of those excellent Dungeon and Dragon titles I grew up with. Icewind Dale. Neverwinter Nights. And Mass Effect? Holy shit. Fan-fucking-tastic. And Shepard is a red-headed female by the way. Not only does it look better, but it sounds better, since the lady behind the voice is by far the better voice actor.

To say that I’m drooling a bit for Mass Effect 3 and TOR is a bit of an understatement. I just about had to replace my keyboard watching the trailers for TOR I was drooling so much. It’s like all of my fantastic dreams come true. I get to be a Sith Lord, and I get to kill anyone who so much as looks in my general direction or pisses me off in the slightest. Oh yeah. It’s a Star Wars geek’s dream come true. My biggest problem in that game will be trying to decide if I fry that guy with lightning or just cut him in half with a red glowing double-bladed saber.

Up until a few days ago, it was a pretty easy decision to make. EVE Online seemed to be going in a direction I wasn’t comfortable with at all. I don’t care about walking in stations. I don’t care about establishments. In fact, I pretty much don’t give a flying fuck about anything that isn’t flying in a spaceship and face-raping other spaceships. And TOR was giving me the opportunity to do what I could never do in real life - kill anyone who pisses me off with a glowing red lightsaber of doom. Darth Shadai. It even has a nice ring to it. Close EVE Online, start all over in TOR, and redirect this blog toward that end.

Like this, only cooler
Well, it was nice knowing my plan isn’t really going to, well, plan. EVE Online just dropped a couple serious business dev blogs and now its back on like Donkey Kong. And now my decision is difficult again.

The first is this very excellently written letter by CEO Hilmar Petursson. I actually read this once, picked my jaw up off the floor, then read it again. It’s about as heartfelt a communiqué I’ve ever read from CCP, well, ever. Kudos goes to the intern who wrote that or to Hilmar if he actually did. I didn’t know he could pen something so humble and unsmug. If you haven’t taken a moment to read it, do so now. I’ll wait until you get back.

The next blog that quickly followed on the heels of the letter was a shorter wish list that pretty much promised the universe to its current player base. For starters, it’s pretty much the top dozen things that annoy us most about the game. And while we have always been able to identify these things, CCP is actually promising to have them fixed. By winter. All of them.

Woah there, little doggie.

Color me cautiously optimistic. While I’m excited for CCP’s sudden reversal in policy, my excitement is tempered a bit by the sheer length of the list. Of course, Arnar tempers the excitement himself with the standard boiler plate of “As we go through design and implementation phases some things may require more work then initially expected and others may not hold water in the design phase and therefore may not make it into this particular expansion.”

Translation: “Well we have like 8 to 10 weeks before this expansion is released, and we are going to try to have all of this stuff in, but some of it just might not make it in, so if it doesn’t don’t riot in Jita.”

One has to wonder why the sudden turn of policy. Has CCP actually read all the scathing blogs written about its management ineptitude, including yours truly? Perhaps the CSM has finally knocked some sense into them, enough that Mittens is smiling like the cat that has swallowed the canary. Or Jester was closer to the mark when he comments that Establishments are setting computers to spontaneous combustion mode and they are in full panic mode. Or perhaps investors are getting impatient and putting the squeeze on a company that has nothing to show them but declining subscription numbers.

And let’s not forget the 800 pound gorilla in the room. Be honest here, TOR is going to rip many of us EVE vets into its loving, force choking arms. Especially the direction we all saw EVE going. Let’s compare. Flying in spaceships occasionally, going to establishments and arguing with pretty avatars that have no real resolution, or ducking into a seedy bar, dodging a bounty hunter then cutting apart that asshat with a lightsaber of death? It’s not even a fair fight.

EVE Online was based on a player base that enjoys space combat, even if the ships fly all wrong in zero gravity. What CCP WANTED to do was create an avatar like existence as a direct competitor to games like TOR. They wanted to draw more subscriptions from those players who enjoy that kind of game. And to be honest, they were about as ready for that as a guy who brings a vibro-knife to a blaster fight. Perhaps maybe they realized that, and hit full thruster reverse and went back to what makes EVE EVE. Spaceships blowing up other spaceships.

But now it is all different. CCP wants to move EVE back in the direction the game has been going all along instead of forcing something that had nothing to do with the mission statement in the first place. And now there is room for EVE to thrive. I have a pretty love/hate relationship with CCP, but they can’t hold a candle to the programming resources and ability of Bioware. CCP is playing the only hole card they have. And lucky for them it’s a good one.

A few posts ago, I commented that it seems CCP has forgotten what its own game is even about. Well I guess they did some soul searching, or at the very least took some serious hard looks in the mirror. Or this could be all smoke and it’s just CCP just telling us what we want to hear so we all re-sub. But I’m not really feeling that. This seems to be as heartfelt and excited I’ve ever seen CCP.  In a sense, it's time for CCP to reinvent itself and/or go back to the future.

Just look at the list! My god, the list! It’s an EVE fanboi’s dream come true. Hybrid weapons, Factional warfare, assault ships, cap rebalance, new T2 modules, improved Starbase logistics management, new EWAR drones, T2 rig manufacturing, ship spinning, new font, more CQ and time dilation.

Not to be bitter or anything, but I notice you left out the “putting together T3 ships in space” part. We’re never going to get that, are we? Can we just be honest for a moment? I’m hoping it’s just an oversight, but for it all being a “simple” fix as I’ve heard, it keeps getting pushed back and pushed back and pushed back.

Ignoring that for now (grumble), if CCP can deliver on half of that list I think it would be a good step in the right direction for the company. It would also go a long way to healing the scars between a company that has grown too arrogant and fat with success in an unchallenged genre and a player base that has become to bitter to even play the game anymore. 

If this is the course CCP has set for itself and is committed to following it through, the future is indeed bright for EVE Online. Of course, as the player base, we will continue to judge CCP by its own standard… Less on what you say, more on what you actually do.

Whereas a few weeks ago, this was a decision easily made. Drop EVE like the clingy, strong minded girlfriend who thought she knew better, and start a new romance with TOR. But now she’s come to her senses, and she’s promising you everything while reminding you why you fell in love with her in the first place. And now it’s not so easy.

Winter is coming.


  1. Whilst I'm not as large a Star Wars fan as you, it's been a part of my life for a very long time, and means much more to me than the EVE backstory.

    Yet I don't find TOR compelling or interesting in the slightest. Even doesn't appeal to me because it has cool space battles, it appeals to me because it's a sci-fi sandbox. A theme park MMO, with the standard "tank, gank & dot" combat system will simply never appeal to me, whatever background it gives itself.

  2. Up there with you in Star Wars fandom; I mean, what do you think the "R5" stands for? :)

    While SWTOR has been branded as being WoW w/lightsabers, I'm still gonna try it for a few reasons: It's Star Wars (hell, I still play Jedi Academy regularly!), I can be a Sith, I can WTFBBQ Jedi with Force Lightning... need I go on? Even if CCP fixes everything I want fixed in EVE, I will still only like about 5% of the game because I'm a twitch gamer, not a thinker. So if I want to fly spaceships, I'll play EVE, and if I want to walk around being awesome, I'll play SWTOR, not Incarna!

  3. Dont knock Jedi Academy. That game was so fun that I have beat it several times on my old xbox :P

    The past 2 months I have been knocking around all sorts of ideas: darkfall? Dawntide? Wurm Online even? or maybe Fallen Earth or TOR. In the end I want to play them all and just lack the time and money to do that. Ive stood by Eve for 2 years though and that dev blog by Hilmar was an adrenaline shot for Eve I think.

  4. I too am a big fan of the Bioware SWTOR games. Star Wars itself when I first saw it utterly blew me away. There hadn't been anything remotely like it before then.

    So thats the intellectual property that CCP is competing against. But that IP is SO strong, if they get it wrong, people will be out of there.

    For myself, seeing a dozen or more people charging around with lightsabers just seems wrong. Where are the heroics? Where is the lone gunman making his way through a hostile universe?

    Definitely will try... and will definitely reserve judgement. After all, just look at what Mr Lucas did with the prequels. Jar Jar Binks, anyone...?

  5. Hmm, Cozmik actually brings up an interesting point: maybe one reason EVE was the first MMO which really caught with me, is that it's a thinkers game (which is fine with me as my twitch reflexes are no longer as strong as they used to be).

    While I'm inclined to play SWTOR casually - because, well, its Star Wars! - I'll wait until the first wave of subscribers had a chance to gather and voice their impressions. But even in the best case, I don't think that it could replace EVE for me.

  6. You've totally got to stop stealing the post titles I steal from HBO

  7. For me it's not a question of whether or not I'm going to play The Old Republic. It's whether or not I'll have any time left over to play anything else.

    That said, I'm glad to see the new direction CCP is taking. Hopefully their actions back up their statements.

  8. Casual play of SWTOR is what I'm looking forward to. I have not read a ton about it, but it appears to be missing... something. The last time they did a Star Wars MMO (SWG anyone?) they started off with a bang. Then everyone became Tamers and no one could ever become a Jedi and it died. So they tried making everyone a Jedi, but to little, to late. Let's hope this time, it works. I have yet to see anything about a crafting system, or a player-based economy with SWTOR though...