Sometimes it’s interesting just to ignore what’s being said and listen to the sub-text instead.
Rather than just looking all the way in at the newbie and trying to guide them into joining a corporation, [CCP] Seagull explained that she was confident that if the instigators and enablers were stimulated enough and excited about what they were doing, they would support the recruiting efforts plenty themselves. In her opinion, the superior model is to focus on having more exciting things going on that people want to be a part of.
Focus: CSM Summit Minutes, “Bounty Hunting” session
Focus: CSM Summit Minutes, “Mercenaries, Wars and Crimewatch” session
Focus: CSM Summit Minutes, “The Next Decade” session
Pages from 58 through 70 of the CSM Summit Minutes comprise nothing less than a philosophical discussion about the nature of EVE Online itself. I’m not going to list the sides, the arguments and counter-arguments, the positions and the policies. As I keep telling you, I’m not a journalist. Go read the Minutes. I just want to talk about them, because the implications are fascinating.
It’s no coincidence that this section of the Minutes is drawing a lot of scrutiny, and it’s also no coincidence that some members of the CSM — notably Trebor Daehdoow — are taking a lot of heat from EVE purists from one side of New Eden to the other. You see, Trebor spends several these 12 pages playing quite the little Devil’s advocate position: what if some EVE players just want to be left alone?
I’ll give you a second to let that little heresy soak in.
[CCP] Soundwave clarified that he doesn’t mind people being bothered by [having bounties placed on them], because no EVE player has the right to be shut off from the rest of the world.
Now let me be clear: I’m certain that Trebor doesn’t really believe this. After all, he also comes up with how to justify high-sec players having bounties placed on them and how to keep bounties from scaring brand new players right out of EVE Online. But I also don’t think it’s a coincidence that it happens to be the one section of the Minutes written by Alekseyev Karrde — Bounty Hunting — where Trebor comes off looking the worst. Maybe a little bit of internal CSM7 politics there, what?
The rest of that section and the Wars and Crimewatch section, though… these are truly remarkable! And again, you kind of have to remember the sub-text while you read the text.
Remember, CCP is motivated to have as many people — not characters, people! — playing the game as possible. One of the very smart things CCP Seagull is doing is taking that much more seriously than I think CCP has ever taken this before:
Seagull didn’t feel comfortable working under the illusion that increased character participation in an activity or increased subscriber count actually meant that they were gaining new customers as a business. [CCP] Unifex reiterated that this was an absolutely critical problem to solve in the near future, and that their analytics team was actively researching the number of human users in particular.
Emphasis mine. Within that context, remember that CCP is motivated to have new players enter EVE Online, and wherever possible, join long-term EVE Online corporations. That’s where their money is: players are much more likely to remain EVE players if they are in long-term corporations and much more likely to stop playing the game if they’re not.
So ideally, CCP would like to see players in corporations… and they’ve shown no qualms at all about directly designing the game mechanics to encourage new players in that direction. But you’ve also got CCP in these sections very gently reminding the CSM that there are other types of EVE players out there too, and sometimes they just want to mine or mission in peace… by themselves. At the end of the day, CCP gets their money too and would probably like to keep it. That’s the sub-text. And there’s Trebor and Meissa Anunthiel gently and from time to time taking their side.
“EVE is a sandbox,” we’re told again and again, usually by an EVE player right before they inflict some deliberate horror on someone. “It’s a dark cold universe and I can play EVE however I like, because EVE is a sandbox. You have no right to tell me how I can play this game. If I want to hurt this guy, he’s in the sandbox and I can do that.” But it’s also apparently true that CCP likes money, and the harsher and colder of a universe EVE Online is, the less likely that EVE is ever going to be the mass market gaming universe that CCP Unifex, Seagull and CCP Ripley clearly want (see “The Next Decade”).
Netted down to basics: some of CCP is becoming a tiny bit conflicted about their own game.
Which is why this gentle suggestion — “What if players just want to be left alone?” — is quite the little heresy. What if they don’t want to have anything to do with war-decs or bounties? What fun is a high-sec war-dec if it causes a massively out-gunned high-sec industry corp’s players to stop playing EVE Online while the war goes on? Who benefits from that? Don’t they also have the right to play EVE however they want, even if that involves not wanting to have anything to do with war-decs or bounties? Isn’t EVE a sandbox for them, too?
And that’s why these 12 pages are fascinating to me: they are a philosophical examination of the soul of EVE Online itself.
During the Bounty Hunting session, according to the Minutes, there were no fewer than ten CCP devs in the room.
Hans prompted for some introductions because he did not recognize everyone in the room.
Some — notably CCP Soundwave and CCP SoniClover — are clearly firmly in the “let capsuleers kill ‘em all and let the gods sort them out.” And as an aside, if a few EVE players fall by the way and unsubscribe, then maybe this universe isn’t for them. Others — like Ripley and CCP Solomon — are seemingly more concerned for them:
Solomon: The strong prey on the weak, but the weak aren’t responding, and nobody’s getting particularly fun or nourishing game play out of this. Is that a failure?
Reminder: those words were uttered out loud by an EVE Online developer. Needless to say, the CSM is not happy to hear this heresy. The argument goes on — quite loudly at times! — for two pages. Again, I encourage you to go out and read it. At the end of it, though, Seleene gives the majority CSM answer:
Seleene: Well then maybe they need to get more friends and they need to learn to defend themselves better in a PvP game.
But wait… I thought… errr… isn’t EVE Online a sandbox? Doesn’t that mean EVE players can play the game however they want? Or did Seleene just define what an “EVE player” is, and in so doing, drastically reduce the scope of the sandbox?
I have no answers for you. Lots of times I do this: I bring up fiddly little points of geek philosophy and I have no answers. But the discussion sure is fascinating, don’t you think?
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