I recently opinioned on the Wormhole Townhall meeting set up by notable CSM member and Hard Knocks leader Noobman. My concern was that the meeting itself had gone a very predictable path where individuals from Wormhole PvP alliances desperately tried to out-chest-beat each other while leaving many topics that really affect us all entirely unsaid. So far, so predictable but my comments and post spawned a ping from a HK line member effectively telling me to speak up or shut up. Either I make my concerns heard to Noobman / CSM or CCP or I am just another one of those /r/eve whiners.
That man had a point. While I ran this blog since 2009, I rarely go into the specifics what CCP should do to make the game a better place. I have no professional game development experience and also can only see a sliver of the game itself. EVE’s strength and weakness are the same, its massive, differentiated and highly integrated structure where one small tweak here causes a massive effect elsewhere. However its true that some areas in the game are in a pitiful state and maybe CCP doesn’t see it.
Lets start with the elephant in the room, activity. Overall, Wormhole activity seems way, way down in all measures. Whether its PvP or PvE, the absolute number of pilots flying in Wormhole space appears at an all time low. I believe there are three reasons for it:
- Overall, EVE is losing players faster than they are replaced. EVE is an old game and looks it, it has zero of the promised mobile experience, nested option menus that may have been all the rage in 2002 but are hopelessly outdated today. Any meaningful interaction in the client requires at least 2 hours of game time which a shrinking number of people actually have. EVE’s player base is ageing, starting families, getting serious jobs and drifting away. Alphas specifically were a “Hail Mary” that briefly spiked the user count because old vets rolled a few accounts as spies, disposable scouts or just because its free. Wormhole specifically has no use for Alphas (can’t fly cloaked = useless). The conversion rate from Alpha to Omega appears to be extremely low.
- Wormhole space is hard. I mean, really hard. Especially in smaller corporations, a player has to be very skilled with the EVE tools, scanning, scouting, situational awareness and of course the wormhole mechanics. Navigation is nowhere near as easy as in K-space where set maps and gates provide some form of certainty how the evening will shape. As older players drift off, newer players don’t replenish the ranks and wormholes wither and die.
- Game mechanics are 100% designed for a High-Sec -> Nullsec Progression. The willful neglect for PvE that CCP has shown for years drives players into the arms of those groups that create content. So far so good. But nearly all new features that CCP has rolled out over the last 2 years have exclusively added to nullsec, more specifically to a “balkanization” of some nullsec regions and massive, just incredible ISK making potential under the protective umbrella of selected few alliances. Wormhole space has seen no specific feature update since the introduction of shattered and frigate size holes, neither of which were game changing themselves. All other updates that we received were designed for empire space and we just deal with the consequences (Citadels, T3Cruisers) or don’t have anything to do with us at all (Sov, Moon Mining). Wormhole space is stagnant and occupied by Alt-corps and two or three real power players.
At this point it would be easy to do a list of things that I want changed to rejuvenate the way I’d like to experience WH space. But before I want to CCP to answer my question: “what do you guys intent WH space should be? What is your vision, your strategy? Who should fly here? Why would they fly here and not in Null, Low or High sec? What is – in marketing parlance – our Unique Sales Proposition?”
The vision used to be that that Wormhole space were the spooky unknown. The place of exploration, untold riches, temporary connections, constant threat from sleepers and other players. The place where a man was all alone or ventured with trusted companions. Maybe analogous to beaver trapping, gold mining in Klondike. The law, as it stood, was represented by the size and the number of weapons you could bring to bear. And then players famously settled holes, installed POSes and turned living there into a fine art. With POSes, wormhole space may have lost the vision of a hunting camp and acquired that of a small town but the frontier feeling was still there. Any new connection could bring invaders or someone to shoot. The reward for this lifestyle was fantastic ISK and bragging rights. Being a wormholer meant “something”. Now Citadels were copied from K-space over. The whole concept of massive space stations in Wormhole space makes no lore sense whatsoever. Every hole we visit is infested by these things with shiny lights, beacons reaching out indicating massive numbers of NPC living there, even if the corp that owns it has gone afk months ago. Wormholes are turning into K-space just with temporary gates. We have insurance, private hangar space, whats next? Agents? Oh Please.
And the Risk / Reward balance that so famously drives all things in EVE is entirely out of whack. Anyone who draws breath can roll a Omega toon, inject a few Skill points and fly with Karma Fleet or Brave or anyone else within a day or so, carrier or VNI ratting ratting or Rorqual mining. At the EVE meet last week, I sat next to a Goon who casually explains how he makes literally billions / day with mining and how some neighboring corporations are nothing but RMT outfits. Its perfectly accepted and tolerated. ISK is so easy to get, there is absolutely no point flying in Wormhole space for.
[EDIT: Because the last paragraph wasn’t clear. I don’t begrudge NS their income, the massive ISK is spent on massive wars that get reported in PC gamer which attract new players etc. This is good for the game. But it did remove the whole attitude “fly in WH space you get rich”]
So, if it isn’t high reward for high risk, what is CCP’s vision for WH space? I have seen no commentary for at least 4 releases, 3 fanfests or any recent devblogs. Why do we still exist? Noobman and his townhall want to increase our population which is absolutely required. But who should fly here? Like everyone on the internet, I have a firm opinion (and solution!) but this is not the place or time to discuss fancy footwork on mechanics or new industries or whether Citadels should need fuel or be hackable.
CCP need to look top-down at the game experience and understand who flies where and why. Making Anoikis great again has to start with a review why it used to be great, what made it so and whether those reasons are still viable.