Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Expansions - WWJD?

So the Winter Expansion is coming, what are you looking forward to?

The mining frigate?
The ship stat changes (aka balancing) for the cruisers/remaining frigates plus some BC nerfage?
The four new destroyers?
Roll out of sleeper AI for most NPC's?
The new Tempest model?
Fixing of Factional Warfare (2nd go at it)?

And....... erm............

What else is coming?

You know what I'm struggling to think of anything else that's been said (just off the top of my head) that will be in the expansion and we're about 12 full weeks from Christmas. This post here from Through Newb Eyes lists all the stuff thats coming but when you look at it, most of it is mechanics tweaking. Changing of numbers, that's all. Powergrid up, CPU down, this moved here, that moved there, range increased here, range decreased there.

Yes I'm sure CCP have more to reveal, but what is the chance it's going to be planet shattering? What have we got to REALLY look forward to? This is a major problem I feel. As far as I am concerned the winter expansion has minimal content currently. For the first time in my Eve Online life, there is an expansion out in less than three months and all I can say about it is - meh!

Following the summer of rage, CCP committed to concentrating on "flying in space" and that the era of the "Jesus feature" was dead. Now the first one is debatable (DUST514 appears to be more of a priority and what are all the devs working on right now on Eve Online other than fiddling with numbers?) and the second one could be a mistake.

If you look at any graph of average number of logged in pilots over the years you'll see peaks and troughs. The peaks usually coincide with expansions releasing new content which tempt ex-bitter-vets back into the game or encourage new players to try Eve. The troughs are usually the summer lull and major competing game releases like SW:TOR and Diablo III etc. I'm sure Guild Wars II has caused one this month and Mechwarrior Online, Planetside II and XCom:Enemy Unknown will also hit Eve numbers hard when they are released. Out of those I cannot wait for the latter and know it's going to hit my Eve time harder than anything in the last 54 months of being an Eve Online fanatic! Yes, XCom is going to be far too much of a temptation to resist!
However, since CCP's decision to change expansions with no "headline/Jesus" feature type content, where are those peaks in numbers going to come from? How are we going to tempt people into (or back into) Eve Online? Crucible and Inferno will have tempted some players back with the multitude of fixes and improvements. But how long can these sort of expansions keep tempting players into the game? The most annoying bugs and problems have been addressed in those two "expansions". What is there now to boost numbers?

Vet - Mate! You should come back to Eve! We've got a new expansion coming up!
BRQV* - Oh cool? What's new in this one?
Vet - Stat changes to frigates and cruisers, the 'cane and a heavy missiles getting a nerf, new mining frigates and a new destroyer for each race, oh and war iterations. Plus Sleeper AI is being rolled out to other NPC's.
BRQV* - Eh? That's it? What about new content?
Vet - Oh we don't get that anymore.
BRQV* - Right, Thanks but no thanks.
Vet - Oh! Wait! The Vagabond has got it's frills back!!! Mate? You still there? Hello.......? THE FRILLS ARE BACK!
Without headline grabbing features giving new content with new things to do, how are we going attract new players, bring back the disillusioned and retain the vets? How is the gaming media going to react to the Winter Expansion? The way I see it they aren't. There is nothing new there, no real news, no potential coverage.

How long can we go on without an expansion that doesn't contain "significant content". How long before the natural bleed of players overtakes the aquisition of new blood?

There is one future expansion that has been talked about that I do see having the potential to reinvigorate the game, and that is the POS revamp. Personally I've never owned a POS but the concept of a "space house" is one I could see people getting excited over. That's the sort of content that will bring players into the game and tempt ex-players back. Think of the towns we created in Star Wars: Galaxies!

So lets not forget whilst fixing and iterating stuff is great for the game, without new content we are on a slippery slope as the game stagnates and new games try and tempted us away...... like X-Com:Enemy Unknown...... released in only twenty thousand and one hundred and sixty minutes**....... but I'm not counting......
As a final thought, of course CCP could have all the devs held in a small room and are poking them with pointy sticks to make them hurry up the top scheecret surprise for the winter expansion that will blow our socks off. But for now, all I see is some tweaking of numbers and some new small ships. Come on CCP, prove me very wrong...... please.......

* Bitter Rage-Quitted Vet
** Just over two weeks.
P.S. Off for four days at the beach tomorrow. Sun, sand, sea, scuba and something else beginning with 'S'. Hopefully the usual Fan Fiction Friday post will reveal automatically if I've set the automatic thingmajig poster thing right! Fly deadly and enjoy your weekend!


  1. Really Drack? By what definition of the word isn't the winter expansion new 'content'?
    Content is anything and everything:
    - The mining frigate is new content, it wasn't there before.
    - The ship stat changes might as well be new content, hulls which haven’t even been readily manufactured in years will see new life.
    - The four new destroyers are new content even more so than the mining frigate.
    - The new Tempest model is new content even by virtue of being a model and texture file.
    - The FW changes are new content.
    - The Level-one AI for NPCs is new content.

    No, what you're looking for is not new content, but new mechanics. That's why you're exited for the revamped POSes; it will require entirely new mechanics. WiS was a new set of mechanics. PI was a new set of mechanics. Jesus features in general are a new set of mechanics because their existence requires it. What you're so mind bogglingly bored about is the lack of expansions upon the mechanics of EVE. Because, you know, new mechanics require you to learn something entirely new.

    Take a step back Drackarn. Look at everything we already have. Then stop being a spoiled brat about it, because this isn't WoW; CCP makes tools for us to use, not snacks for us to devour faster than they can prepare them – you know this, I know this, any EVE player worth his salt knows this. Sometimes CCP gives us new tools. Sometimes CCP tweaks an old tool.
    Tiericide in particular is a MAJOR piece of content because it breathes new life into so many more ships that you have to learn the pros and cons of. When was the last time you died to a Bellicose? These ships have been so useless that we haven’t had to worry about them. Don’t fancy re-learning aspects of PvP because of ship changes? HTFU, this is EVE Online.

    We are the content. We make the content with the mechanics. But we can’t make good content if old mechanics lie broken and useless. THAT is why we demanded focus on FiS. THAT is why this winter is absolutely FULL of content.

    Yeah, I’m mad brah.
    PS: Hope you enjoyed the beach.

    1. Dude! Chill.

      "headline grabbing features giving new content with new things to do"

      It isn't that the Winter changes don't have new content, it's that it the new content doesn't take the form of anything eye catching enough to tempt new players and the bitterest of vets.

      OTOH I take your point that "CCP makes tools for us to use". We'll have to make our own headline grabbers out of the Winter expansion. Even this is going to be difficult, the gaming press isn't going to go wild over "Bellicose attacks on the rise", but what are the possibilities for a "Mining Frigate Death Fleet". If RvB run a ganked roam with everyone in crazy fit mining frigs then I am going.

      Attack of the Mining Frigs? Ninja Mining Swarm? Someone more imaginative than me can come up with a better idea.

    2. Woah dude! Chill!

      At the start I was thinking "He doesn't really get what I mean" and then I got really confused halfway down and thought "Yes he does, just different meanings of words" and then back to "No he doesn't". :)

      We can argue what is "content" and what is "mechanics". My personal view is that the winter expansion (expansion is what everyone calls it whether it truely expands the game or not) has little to temped old players back or to entice new players to try the game.

      For example, yes you are right, the mining frigate is something new. But its hardly THAT exciting is it. It basically does what something else used to do, but it does it a bit better. Can you see people who quit Eve coming back for that?

      Yes, the tiericide is going to make things intersting. I'm thinking logistics frigates could be kind of cool. But its not earth-shattering is it? They are basically smaller versions of ships already in the game. I'm already looking at some new tactics with the revamped cruisers and frigates.

      CCP have been tweeking the old tools for two, and now three expansions. My point was without the headline features, how do we get players back into the game and also attract new blood?

      " why this winter is absolutely FULL of content." I disagree, this expansion is full of what I would call "mechanic changes" and less of "content". But we could argue the meaning of these two words until the cows come home.

      My main point was the peaks and troughs of past. What will happen if these new expansions don't cause any peaks? Troughs all the way equals a downward slope.......

    3. "Bellicose attacks on the rise" - My main point and that got me laughing out loud in the office! :)

    4. Didn't mean for it to come across as too much of an angrypost; just provocative, despite the "ya I mad".

      My main point is that I don't agree that - as the good sir spacenoob put it - headline grabbing features are really what retain or bring back RQBVs (to use your term). I think more people have left over half-baked Jesus features - bad memories of monocle-gate ahoy - or waiting endlessly on broken ships/features - like say Faction Warfare - to finally be fixed, than have quit because... Oh dear, CCP haven't made a Jesus feature this year.

      Regardless of opinion, there is some news on this front actually. As I read it: CCP can't commit to new big features because they ~need~ to make these changes first. So there's that.

      Cheers, and I'll see you in low-sec! Maybe. :)

  2. A year ago, people were clamouring for more iteration on existing features, instead of constantly adding new jesus features with every expansion. Many people explicitly stated that CCP should focus an entire expansion on balancing and fixing old content.

    Then they did, and we were happy. Now they're doing it again, and we're upset that there's no exciting headline feature for the winter.

    (That's assuming we don't count the integration of Eve and Dust, along with the ability to nuke dust bunnies from orbit, as an exciting new feature).

    1. I was trying to make a point about the long term health of Eve.

      And whilst nuking Dust Bunnies from orbit sounds cool. How exciting will it be in game really? Warp to planet, active bombardment computer/load special ammo, press F1, watch projectiles disappear towards the planet, warp off.

    2. Maybe things have swung too far the other way from jesus features? Maybe they should alternate expansions. That would leave some expansion unappealing to new/bittervet players. I wonder if a balanced approach is possible or if it would just leave all expansions falling between two stools.

      Oribital Bomardment: You forgot about monitoring Dust Bunny Tears before leaving. Surely this is/will be the best thing about it? I'm hoping it'll be like nuking Thumper from orbit.

      PS - never seen a "jesus feature" arrive. I visualise it as MegaMaid from Spaceballs crossed with "Jesus Buddy" from Dogma. It was a titan spaceship right? right?


      Space Noob

    3. AFAIK Dust514 is going live on TQ in roughly a month with the first cross-game features: chat and corporations.

      That and there were some rumors about being able to spectate on Dust514 matches via the EVE Client at some point. :D

  3. I don't like jesus features. They are always terribly balanced and never given proper time for real iteration because ccp goes to work on another half baked idea. Remember when facwar was originally released? Now count the years until Inferno... Yeah.

    Also fuck bittervets. They all sound like they want to play a themepark game but just can't come out of the closet and admit it.

    1. But if we don't get those bitter vets back into the game, if we don't entice new players in. What happens to Eve?

  4. Well, Dust will entice new interest for EVE. More people then ever will hear about it.

    Your post kind of make the case that CCP shouldn't listen to the players. Which to some extent I agree. Some of us would like to have our niches in the game expanded, some of us would like to have something completely new to play, and people like me are really happy with the changes in ship stats because is what I fly so far in RVB.

    I think a balance could be achieved by having the ships re balanced, old mechanics being improved and at least one new "big thing" at each expansion, but it comes down of how much, money, people and time CCP has to work with.

    I think CCP now is trying to build a solid base to really be capable of expanding the game further. FW is a good example where a cool new mechanic was released, but the FW shop is code from the time when rainbows where black and white, so now it needs lots of money, time and men-hours to fix it, and that takes that away from some new cool stuff.

    At the same time they have all this cool ships where all the work is done, but nobody flies because their stats are shit. 3 dudes can do it cheap, fast and have a major impact in the game. Hence the re balance.

    About the bitter vets: They give up the game for the same old reasons, they grow up, get kids and have no more time, lost their jobs and get new ones, etc... Then a expansion hit, they come back for a month to see what is going on, and then unsub again.

    EVE needs a new generation of players, young kids with lots of time, no wife and kids, a steady income from their fresh new jobs out of college and can stay logged in for hours to get jobs like sov done. Bitter vets can't, so making expansions for these people is to loose time, money and men-power in a month only player.

    A bit of a long post, but the others did it as well!

    Agnar Volta

  5. I had much, MUCH higher hopes for "tiericide".

    Basically the AAR looks something like this:
    1. What was planned? Rebalance all T1 non-faction ships to remove "tiers" and the "this always > that because :tiers:" mentality. Round up frigs so they're all on pretty much equal footing with the Rifter, just in diff ways. Give each T1 non-faction ship a "feel", whether it's fast and agile, slow brawler with lots of DPS, or a mix of the two.

    2. What actually happened? We successfully turned each T1, non-faction hull into a cheaper, less-effective version of its T2 counterpart. Incursus is a cheap, "brawler" aka Enyo knockoff. Atron is a cheap T1 inty. Tristan will be a mini-Nemesis with missile bonused instead of torps, and no cloak. Ohwait, Navitas goes from being a "mining" frig to a cheap, VERY easy to pop logi, that's a "major change", I swear it is!

    3. How can we sustain our strengths and mitigate our weaknesses? Second things first: we're :CCP:, we have no weaknesses! We sustain our strengths by doing whatever we want because it's :our game:, and don't really think things thru in terms of the vast and sweeping changes we make. "Consequences" are what we tell players about when we nerf them or do something else that raises grumbling and bitching. But when players make use of the "unintended consequences" of our poorly-thought-out game design implementation that we lovingly call "The Sledgehammer Effect", or changes resulting from lack of fully thinking things through to their natural conclusions, especially to wit: "how can :badppls: exploit this to unfair advantage??", we rule that an exploit and ban them mercilessly. This tactic seems to work fairly well, so we should continue NOT thinking things through in a logical manner, making slapdash :arbitrary: mechanics changes with sledgehammers, and disciplining players for discovering loopholes in said changes.

    ^^ that sound about right to you? ;-)

    1. No, that sounds a lot like whining and moaning about things that you have not though through.

      The end of tiers made wonders so far for the frigs. Come join RVB and you will see what I mean. We don't have Rifters only fights anymore.

      So many different roles a ship can have. All those frigs now have an use and are being used. How many times did you aee an Atron in space before? And they are still far, far away from their tech II counterparts. They might work in the same niche, but not in the same way or with the same efectiveness.

      Also the new logi frigs may be useless in the end of the day. We don't know, and will have to wait and see what will happen, but at least is something promissing.

      CCP learn the hard way about their weaknesses, they lost money and 20% of their work force, which means friends and families were depply afected by this. Don't think that doesn't have a deep effect in a business, as you can see from the tone of interviews and future plans from the company. They are still Icelanders tho, that won't change.

      The FW exploit was not predicted by any of the "genius players" that we have either, and if you ask me they were very nice in the punishments delivered. Different for exemple from the inventory system, where players warned about the problem, and CCP decided implementing anyway, and follow up with a series of quick fixes that adressed most of the problems. Still, they could have waited a bit to have a more polished product and save themselfes some troubles.

      You are asking for logical thinking, but to me you can not do that while ranting about stuff. CCP is a business, not a democracy, is also not your life. If the GAME you play is making you this angry, maybe you should go do something else perhapes? :-)

      Agnar Volta

    2. The GAME doesn't make me angry.

      CCP makes me angry, in their self-contradictory behaviors and statements, lack of "thinking things through", and generally bad design practices rolling out half-baked "features", then punishing players for taking the unbaked dough and running with it.

      :Badcommenters: like you, who basically make my arguments for me, then tell me I'm wrong because I didn't phrase it in exactly the same way you did, make me angry.

      People who "project" thoughts, emotions, and motives upon me, based off a quick "sound bite" of commentary, you suddenly know exactly how I think and feel about an entire topic ... make me angry. See also: you.

      \o/ Yay you managed to get a minor rise out of me. Does this make you happy? If not, maybe you should go do something else perhapes? ;-)