Hello space friends. Well here we are. It’s August; Fall is quickly approaching and soon enough all of you will seek the warm glow of your monitor to carry you through to Spring. As it’s August, I also find myself halfway through my term on CSMX. I thought this would be a good time to put some thoughts on paper about EVE and the CSM. So many big changes have been made over the past year, and so many more coming. The conversation and feelings are mixed on many subjects, not only regarding what’s happened already, but also things in progress and still to come.
Throughout the years, nearly every CSM has expressed some variation on the theme that “Being on the CSM is more work than I ever imagined.” It is impossible to truly appreciate how true this statement is, until you experience it for yourself. here are CSM’s like Sugar Kyle who put in a ton more work than I, and others, do. She demonstratres an amazing ability to collect and organize data, using information to support very good arguments. Others like Endie, blessed with the literary chops necessary to communicate so effectively and eviscerate any contrarian. Sion could take a herd of monkeys and organize them into a finely-tuned and perfectly efficient working machine. These are just a few examples of the talents of CSMX. I fall somewhere in the “wildly passionate EVE nerd who knows quite a bit about the game and has played at a high level for a very long time” category. Enough of you decided that was what mattered to you, that I got a seat on CSMX and, if I run for CSMXI, you’ll have your say then, as well.
It has been an exciting term so far. I’ve spent many a night and weekend talking EVE with many different Devs into the wee hours of the morning. These people are passionate, and they put in a ton of work even though we may not always agree with or appreciate it. So far, interacting with CCP has been a pretty positive experience. They are mostly eager to hear the CSM’s feedback on things, though interest at times varies from dev to dev. Sometimes they listen to the CSM, averting catastrophe; other times, not so much. I really wish I could quantify what CCP listening or not listening looks like, in practice. It would shed a lot of light on just what the CSM accomplishes, and just how CCP interacts with us. The best I can say is that it is simply hit or miss sometimes. Take, for example, the Trollceptor. The community and the CSM said it would be a problem from our first looks at Aegis. CCP however have chosen to approach the issue in their own way. Among the first issues I pushed to CCP were concerns regarding Bombing and Combat Probing; namely, that both were overpowered and strangling nullsec doctrines and tactics. CCP responded, but in a manner I could never have predicted. They chose to address the issue by changing fleet warp mechanics. Not what any of us imagined as a solution, or necessarily all wanted, but the path CCP took, nonetheless. The point is that, in the end, the CSM can advocate for anything; how CCP acts is never a sure thing. Even when we can be sure they’ll take some action, the means they choose are often impossible to predict.
EVE has changed a great deal over the past few years. Some of this has been for the better, and some for the worse. Look at where we were two years ago, before Phoebe’s power projection changes, for instance. Nullsec stagnated into two monolithic power blocs effectively stifling competition for resources across the map. The only place the two blocs couldn’t reach with absolute power was wormholes. The path to playing in nullsec had but a few entrances. You were either a part of party A or party B. Optionally, you could be a renter and live under the rules of party A or B. In niche cases you would be allowed to exist in nullsec so party A or B could use you for cheap content. Most conflicts were proxy wars. The Halloween War is an example of this. Russian players wanted to reenter sov and the CFC supported their effort. In the end CFC’s commitment to the Russian bloc was shown to be only momentary as N3 were able to destroy them once CFC withdrew from the conflict, and took their support of the Russians with them.
Since the power projection changes, power blocs’ spheres of influence have diminshed greatly. With that, once-vast rental empires have shrunk and even the power blocs themselves have trimmed some fat, declining in size. Conflicts in most cases have been more regionalized. Lowsec players found freedom to assert control over their neighborhood without fear of existing nullsec powers being able to crush them for entertainment. New groups entered nullsec that would have never been able to before the power projection changes. I would say for the most part it has been positive. However, some things are worse. Logistics, for example; moving goods has become much more painful. I can appreciate CCP’s difficult task with EVE. At over a decade old, EVE is very complex with a multitude of systems and features interacting with each other. Striking perfect balance in a game this complex with so many considerations is incredibly hard. Since becoming a CSM, I have begrudgingly come to understand CCPs approach in balance as of late. You have heard Devs say “the lightest touch” when talking about iteration and balance. The Ishtar, for instance, has had many balance passes over the past year. Each time CCP lightly adjusted the Ishtar, the community would cry out “Just change this and get it over with.” Doing X thing for the nullsec community may have in fact fixed the Ishtar for nullsec. However, the Ishtar interacts with EVE in many different places and through many different gameplay styles. Balancing with all those systems and playstyles in mind is a very difficult task.
Lately, the players have been getting increasingly aggressive towards devs. I have to admit, this usually gets me pretty angry. I see how much effort dev’s put in. Of course, sometimes they miss the mark. If you consider all the changes over the last few years, however, the community has asked for changes and CCP has responded. People grew tired of Power Projection; CCP responded. People didn’t want structure grinding; CCP responded. People wanted the Ishtar & T3s nerfed; CCP responded. People wanted bombs and combat probing changed; CCP responded. Complaints arose regarding the Trollceptor and Aegis node issues; CCP responded. As I said earlier, CCP doesn’t always respond in exactly the fashion the community demands, but they do listen and where appropriate try to make changes.
CCP’s rapid release model has allowed them to make changes faster. Usually that means they make smaller adjustments and then see if it corrects the issue. We must trust that they will continue to make these adjustments and hopefully, with constructive feedback from the community and CSM, they will reach that balance. I personally am advocating for restricting Entosis links to battlecruiser hulls and up. However, I can respect that CCP is at least acknowledging the problem and working to improve the situation.
The things I am focusing on currently as a CSM member are: The attacker needs skin in the game when attacking sov. There needs to be real reasons to want to own sov beyond a flag. Sov should be so good that everyone want’s it and craves it and we will beat each other bloody trying to get it, keep it, and keep others from having it. Capitals and Supers need a role in Eve without it just being about OMGPWNMOBILES The battlefield should be bloody and chaotic. A wide variety of disciplines, doctrines, and tactics should be possible. The more dynamic the situation, with some flavor of unpredictability, makes for an exciting experience.
We are playing a sandbox MMORPG where player interaction is key. An overwhelming majority of activities come from or feed from things exploding. Resource Extraction, Hauling, Production, Exploration, Trade, and many more activities are driven by player consumption. That consumption is a byproduct of things exploding. When I talk to CCP, I try to stress the importance of promoting Death & Chaos.
To Quote Jean-Baptiste Emanuel Zorg from the 5th Element: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ad_fdYFHYXo
Life, which you so nobly serve, comes from destruction, disorder and chaos. Take this empty glass. Here it is, peaceful, serene and boring. But if it is destroyed… Look at all these little things. So busy now. Notice how each one is useful. What a lovely ballet ensues, so full of form and color. Now, think about all those people that created them. Technicians, engineers, hundreds of people who’ll be able to feed their children tonight so those children can grow up big and strong and have little teeny weeny children of their own, and so on and so forth. Thus, adding to the great chain… of life. You see, Father, by creating a little destruction, I’m actually encouraging life.
When talking about Sov the biggest deficiencies are pretty easy to spot. Obviously the Trollceptor is a problem. The lack of investment for an attacker is absurdly out of balance. When you consider a frigate hull is incredibly cheap and the fact that even a defender who is patrolling, gate camping, and taking every reasonable precaution to deter attack cannot stop a Trollceptor. Three Inertial Stabilizers in the lows and an Interceptor will enter warp before almost anything can stop it. Nullification ensures that bubbles are not an issue either. Entosis in my mind needs to be limited to battlecruiser-sized hulls and above. This removes the possibility of Nullification interfering with defenders’ reasonable efforts to protect themselves. The battlecruiser is still low cost, easy to train for, and does not lock out newer players from participating in Sovereignty Warfare.
The other deficiency with Sov is the lack of incentive. Why own it? What does sov offer that you cannot get elsewhere in EVE? A flag on the map is the only unique thing I can think of. Anomalies are cool, but I would argue you can make comparable isk from WH’s and highsec Incursions. In my opinion, owning Sov should offer such unique and lucrative benefits that players crave it. Defending it or attacking sov should be worth the cost, time, and effort required. For lack of better expression, it should be like Crack. Get us all addicted and watch us beat each other bloody trying to take, hold, and exploit it.
Lastly, Capitals and Supercapitals have no place in the meta. These hulls for the most part have been out of balance for a very long time. The removal of structure grinding only exacerbates the situation. I do not envy CCP’s position as they approach these ships. The prospect of making these hulls useful in a post hitpoint based sov/structure EVE is daunting. The trick in my mind will be giving them buffs that don’t necessarily buff offensive capabilities. Utilitarian abilities could add value but with any ship or bonus, the question is always how does it scale. Furthermore, when considering utilitarian abilities the trick will be making them impactful and exciting for the user without making them overpowered. I am excited to get to participate in this discussion when it happens. I am also sure the community will have invaluable feedback and ideas as well.
My friends, we are in uncertain times. Some of the changes have been poorly received by the community. After playing this game for over a decade I have come to know a few truths for certain. EVE is constantly changing and CCP has before and will again make changes that the community will not like or that are perhaps not very well thought out. However with that said CCP will correct course as always and the company is filled with intelligent, dedicated, and passionate people. I am optimistic for EVE’s future and I cannot wait to enjoy it with all of you.