A blogbanter on Lore? Can’t resist
How important is “fluff” in Eve online? Would eve online be the same if it were purely numbers and mechanics, or are the fictional elements important to the enjoyment of the game? Would a pure text, no reference to sci-fi or fancy names still be an engaging game? Should CCP put more or less emphasis on immersion?
For me, the backstory of every game has always been a double-edged sword – too little and the world seems empty and out of sync, too much and my fantasy is weighed down by doctrine. Even as a teenager, I read Lord of the Rings and never fell in love with the arrogant and ethereal elves, I much preferred the tough-as-rock dwarves, in my mind, I chose to see the books as written for them.
“EVE Online sits on the frontier of social gaming, providing an entertainment environment like no other. The vibrant society of interacting and conflicting communities, both within the EVE client and without, is the driving force behind EVE’s success. However, the anonymity of internet culture combined with a competitive gaming environment encourages in-game behaviour to spread beyond the confines of the sandbox. Where is the line?“
Oh the famous line between the real world and the online world – this is what my blog is all about and hence it should be dead easy to drop a few lines with references to my older posts and be done with it. Yes?
The Public Perception of EVE Online
Now approaching its tenth year, the EVE Online player community has matured into an intricate and multi-faceted society viewed with envy by other game developers, but is frequently regarded with suspicion by the wider gaming community.
Is this perception deserved? Should “The Nation of EVE” be concerned by its public identity and if so how might that be improved? What influence will the integration of the DUST 514 community have on this culture in the future?
Ok, this blogbanter is a rather easy, straight -up marketing question for the MBA dudes at CCP. There are only two ways this can go in the community. One is the obvious answer that discusses EVE being too complicated and “un-fun” to the the WoW community and therefore is concerned with easing new recruits into the dark and smelly world of New Eden. The second one is concerned about the integrity of New Eden and the danger that soft and casual players present to the hardcore EVE vets who are aoh-so-superior to the rest of homo sapiens.
I am on record being quite cynical about the CSM and their role. In that view, CSM are a marketing trick to make CCP look good by pretending to really “listen” to their customers. Players are suckered into believing that they have a real stake in the future of the company and game and therefore are less likely to unsubscribe. A CSM as a marketing trick deserves no further discussion and the recent Blog Banter 34 “How would you like to see the CSM grow, both in terms of player interaction and CCP interaction?” should not be an interesting one. After all, it was spawned by an employee of CCP and hence serves the purpose of enriching his own wallet.
And then I thought about it more.
CCP as a small tech company has arguably created an online game that in complexity has no equal. Forget WoW and its countless clones, forget FPS, RTS and console games. The depth of EVE Online is much closer to e.g. Second Life than a game as its content generator are people, not script writers. I would like to go one step further – EVE Online has many times be compared to be a spreadsheet with a nice background. I doubt anyone at Microsoft understands everything people can do with the tools they built into Excel. But whereas we all readily accept that MS is a toolmaker company, I certainly still compare game companies as content creators. And that is where my (and I think CCP’s) thinking failed.
See, if CCP realizes that they are building tools instead of content, they give up the notion that they know everything. Creation of focus groups, polling customers and having “test labs” are common practice for software companies and I assume CCP does this also – in addition to statistical evaluation of player behavior of course. The CSM is another way by which CCP can poll what their customers really are doing with the toolchest they have built for them. I challenge for example any chosen CCP employee to a discussion on Wormhole warfare mechanic with Two Step, cloaky combat with pjharvey, military leadership with Ender Black and fan fiction with Seismic Stan or Miss Thalys. These players / tool users / customers are better by many miles in what they do than any one of CCP employees. They will be a much better source of what we – the users – can do with CCP’s toolchest. And why should this be so surprising? After all EVE Players consider themselves as the smartest online players out there – I think with reason – so CCP should develop the humility to acknowledge that and deeply embed CSM into their learning.
And so, to bring it home, how would I “grow” the CSM as it was laid out in the blog banter? I would like to give each CSM member more or less specific portfolios they shall report on – these are fairly easy to prepare (WH life, null sec mechanics etc). CSM members open themselves to EVE players and seek input based on their portfolio, assimilate and discuss with the other council members into discrete sets of recommendations. If blood spills then between them, so be it but subsequently, CSM members bring topics and recommendations towards CCP and report to the players the responses. This portfolio-based approach will limit the partisan nonsense that some CSM members spew (removing ABC ores from WH because it breaks nullsec markets for example) and overall create a collaborative environment with CCP and the players.
Fundamental to that is that CCP changes its understanding of what they are – a tool maker, not a game company.
EVE Online is a cruel world. Click “Un-dock” and you consent to be raped, pillaged, burned and mutilated. If you don’t like it, HTFU or play World of Warcraft.
EVE Online is a peaceful world where you can mine for resources, trade with friends and travel in peace, protected by Concord’s benevolent and ever-present police force.