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One of CCP Seagull’s (exec producer) goals has been to remove CCP from in-between players so they can focus on their relationship with each other as opposed to the game developers. You’ll notice the logo doesn’t appear before official videos anymore. This takes a lot of trust that the players can manage society themselves, without the visible hands of god.

In contrast, CCP Fozzie, when asked why CCP doesn’t go with a “no sovereignty” model replied that “Eve was not ready” for that concept (audio 15:50). That was a “great ideal,” but not realistic yet. People still need to see their flag on the map.

Fozzie was right, the players still need to be shown, directed, so CCP is going back to an old playbook. Expansions are returning, HP goals are back, fleet-warp nerf is scrubbed, and the queen is dead.

CCP is bringing Epic back.

 

Big Features

The development cycle that releases numerous little features every six weeks will continue, but CCP will hold the big features for expansions so that players can get hyped up. The continuous stream of information about upcoming features and the deliveries of them mixed together to the extent players were unsure if features were released, coming soon, or planned for later. And when something as big as a new sovereignty mechanics hit, players seemed not to notice.

“The build up to the old patch days used to be fun trying to figure out x/y/z, but nowadays with it being monthly its just “oh another patch…” – Stretford End Gaz, Comment on Kitguru

There may be a second reason CCP changed their mind about big banner expansions. Player numbers spike after expansions as they came back to the game to check out the new features. Even if they didn’t stick around, it is an opportunity to rekindle the fire. Many former players keep reading about the game during breaks and long after they’ve left. EVE is over for you when you stop thinking about it.

eve-players-exp-2012

 

 

Big Guns

New structures will have Hit Points that will need to be blasted down giving dreadnoughts and super capitals a DPS role. This is welcomed news by capital pilots that enjoyed burning down structures. Even if structure grinds are boring, they are still social and yield a lot of killmails.

In a striking admission CCP admitted the entosis mechanic was not “satisfying” to players.

…there is a visceral connection in shooting a structure down to destroy it. Having guns blazing while watching the target hit points go down is a very strong visual and adrenaline factor that Entosis links remove out of the equation.

It is too early to tell if the entosis mechanic will be replaced if  “DPS with mitigation” can achieve the same design goal: lowering the bar of entry for smaller groups. Developers have other options too: Using the entosis as an alternative “capture” method or find a way to make entosis links more satisfying. Perhaps killmails for nodes, or a better (red) progress bars might help. If CCP could use their new graphic tools to slowly decay an entosised object, as if its life was vampirically being sucked away, that might take the entosis to a new level. For now CCP is falling back to good old DPS destruction with a “stacking penalty” of sorts.

 

Fleet Warps

Some of the best moments in EVE are found just before a fight as your fleet moves in. Fleet warps allow players to see each other as they get into position. Seeing your mates around you in the silence before the storm is a powerful experience, but even flying home after a good fight has an affect. Fleet warps are an important reminder that you are part of a team.

Here’s a symbolically representative video (although these are not fleet warps):

 

Unfortunately, fleet warp can be used as a potent tactical tool by Fc’s, bomber pilots, probers, etc, as explained in the devblog [here], but there may be a secondary reason:

By eliminating fleet warp, players will be more responsible for their own actions. Currently in large fleets, most pilots are actually crew members to the pilot, the FC. Players must regulate their part of the “ship” (fleet) – cycling propulsion, overheating, broadcasting for reps. All while they are anchored on the FC who is doing the actual driving. This is not bad game-play, but CCP wants to put less responsibility on FC’s to they don’t burn out as fast. The more responsibility individual players assume, the more independent they become. This may transition some players from normal “group” type player to the “enablers & instigators” type that CCP Seagull talked about in 2013 [video].

 

The Queen is Dead

CCP has been sacrificing their sacred cows and recently killed off a staple of EVE Lore: Amarrian Empress Jamyl Sarum. Her demise was a major step in shaking-up the universe and highlighting the challenges ahead with Drifter Incursions.

More importantly it sets up a major tournament that will happen at the next fanfest. This happened once before, but EVE was very small back and the lore was so new by comparison. This event will be a huge spectacle.

 

Conclusions

The last year has been two steps forward (Phoebe and Aegis) and, now, one step back. Again CCP shows the courage to correct their course as needed before major problems mount, setting an example for the players: evolve to survive.

At some point players will own EVE and take responsibility for its direction by using all that the sandbox allows. For now they still need guidance from developers to get them excited about the future. Many players that attend gatherings like EVE_NT (Nottingham, UK), come away recharged and energized after spending time with CCP devs. This is a gift to players from developers who take the time to connect over something they love too, EVE.

There’s more to do, like figuring out how alliances can mount null-sec campaigns that take months, but maybe that’s for players to figure out.

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