The most useless feature in history of games

How to waste money and time when you obviously have too much of both. That would be Eve-Online “walking in station” project.

Now, in order to comprehend the bullshitting CCP is used to wave around and flaunt, I need to do some quoting from original dev blogs.

Now, today we’ve set our sights on character rendering and lifelike animation. It’s important to realize that in order to create realistic looking characters, you have to pay great attention to how they will be animated. We have examples of 3d rendered characters in films and digital media that look amazing when you see a screenshot or a still frame, but once they start moving, they look like zombies or animatronic RealDolls™. There’s actually a term that describes how cg or cartoon humanoid characters tend to look creepy and un-lifelike the closer you get to photorealism. A Japanese roboticist named Masahiro Mori gave it the name “Uncanny valley”. If we plan to create close to photorealistic characters, we must ensure that they’re behavior matches the quality of the shading and rendering in order to keep them out of this valley of darkness.

So exactly how do we create lifelike animation? Well, for one, we will use state of the art motion capture. There are nuances in the biomechanics of the human body that only the most experienced and skilled animators are able to express. It takes them, however, days to create what you capture in minutes in mocap. The amount of animation needed for a project like walking in stations prohibits us from hiring an army of the worlds most talented animators and having them animate for years until their fingers bleed.

This brings us to an area of computer graphics called dynamic avatar human-to-human interaction. It tries to apply knowledge derived from years of research of human body language into the actions of computer generated avatars, so that their behavior mimics human behavior without the user or NPC controller micro-managing every little twitch of the body or glance of the eyes.

This is one of the areas that we intend to research and apply to our animation system.

Two years passed since this dev blog I quoted. Now you can see the result of all that inspired and hyped work:


Two years passed and now you can see the result of so much bullshitting. You can see where all their work with “lifelike animations”, study in “biomechanics” and “state of the art motion capture” went.

Enjoy some of the WORST character animations I’ve ever seen. Featuring lobotomized facial expressions, stick-up-the-ass robotic walking animations and bump-aganist-the-walls like a drunkard. Please don’t offend zombies and animatronics, they move with so much more grace.

But, for this year, they are up for more bullshitting.

My opinion on Factional Warfare

My opinion from observing from the outside.

The patch was deployed a few hours ago and I’m reading the feedback. Apparently the most prominent feature is an “align” button to use in fleets that I don’t know what it does.

For the rest CCP did two things:

1- Write on a web page a bunch of made-up stories that never happened or cannot happen in the game.
2- Spawn an NPC titan in empire space.

And everyone is giddy.

What I understand from this? That players can be happy for very little. That’s not so dissimilar from spawning a dragon in Stormwind. Players will be happy (especially if there’s loot to ninja, like in this case of the titan). And it doesn’t require any effort from the dev team.

I also understand something I knew already. That the players love “massive” in a mmorpg. And that till today not even a single company cared to develop any “massive” in their namely massive games.

In fact we have smaller and smaller private spaces and irrelevant little carrots to maintain the dependence.

And today the very best “massive” feeling and well structured combat comes from games like Quake Wars or Battlefield.

PvP design philosophy

Discussing on the forums the Factional Warfare concept that I criticized here revealed something rather important: I’m ranting about a game that I don’t play.

Moreover, I’m ranting simply because CCP design didn’t follow my own expectations and desires. And obviously CCP isn’t my property and what I personally think doesn’t matter.

So: I’m ranting because an hardcore game is made for its audience, and not for me.

Sure. I anticipated this and explained my reasons on the first post I wrote recently. Where I wrote that my opinion is that Eve-Online has reached its critical mass and if they now want new players they need to start open up their systems. Bridging the early (and dull) game to the more deep stuff.

Factional Warfare isn’t doing that, and I ranted.

This also raised again the idea of a PvP design philosophy. A concept that I would like to see in at least ONE game. But that right now is completely absent from the market.

Which would be then meaningful only if there would be a big market for it. I believe there is. And that it is commercially BIGGER than what we have currently (for PvP). So: design philosophy and personal opinions. Personal opinions that matter not because *I* write them, but because when I write them I also *motivate* them.

This PvP design philosophy is about the progression system. Every decent system needs a progression. And every decent progression needs to be accessible. So that everyone can move through. More slowly or faster, but still move through.

Translating this to PvP simply means: PvP will NEVER be accessible and widespread if it works at a loss. So this is how it should work: if you want a system where PvP is more frequent and fun, then you need a system where people can participate without losing more they can gain.

In a system where the experienced players are MUCH, MUCH powerful than new people who enter for the first time, you need some mechanic to leverage them. Especially in the longer term, when people who are already inside become more and more powerful and the wall to climb for the new players higher and higher. In Eve it doesn’t matter if there’s a corp who decides to take over, new players won’t have a chance if they enter a system where EVERYONE is more powerful than they are.

For PvP to work and be popular and widespread entry costs need to stay low. As low as possible.

In Eve-Online and other “hardcore” PvP games the costs are instead higher to the lower end than the higher end, where you can develop a fair margin of wealth to stay safe. Noobs pay higher costs than veterans. And this creates a gap between players that is harder and harder to fill, in a similar fashion to what happens with PvE raiding endgame. The game becomes increasingly specialized and less and less appealing and accessible for new players. That for a MMO equals to a progressive, unavoidable decline.

So: a PvP system with very low entry costs and at a gain. Where you gain through participation. Progressively.

In EVERY game and PvP systems you die a lot when you enter for the first time. In Eve-Online not only you would die a lot, but you’ll also PAY a lot. So a lot of players shy away because the game isn’t for them, while a smaller subset cling to the mechanic and find an exponential success, because once you climb the wall you can look down at things from far above. And it is rewarding.

But it’s also an overall mechanic that is divisive and that works only toward a minority. A minority that will be eroded over time.

This means it is a choice, and that there’s nothing wrong to make a game that aims at a niche. But you also have to recognize and admit what you’re doing.

I’m not fighting against the idea that hardcore players shouldn’t have their game. But that PvP can be both deep and accessible. And I want to play that game. And I believe it would be extremely successful.

I don’t like the idea that I have to grind boring PvE missions for a week so that I’m able to participate in PvP for an hour. PvE should never be a requirement so that you can enjoy some PvP. I want a PvP system where participation costs are LOWER than the rewards. So that I can stick to it and continue to play and have fun. Without punishing mechanics to push me to the lowest risks.

These are the points I’ve offered for Eve:
* Open/factional PvP should be limited to SPECIFIC battleground systems tagged for Factional Warfare. While secure space should stay secure even if you are signed in.
* Within these tagged systems NPC factions should provide you the “gear” to use. Gain ranks to get access to better gear/PvP sets. If you blow up, you get replacements. As long you fight for them. (free participation costs)
* Forbid players to bring NPC-rented equipment outside battleground systems. So that the gear you gain can only be used inside this system. (not disrupting the current game)
* Forbid you to swap sets. So that you are only able to fly in NPC-rent sets, and not bring a goddamned Titan to a noob battleground.

The last point would allow these battles to be accessible to everyone, both noobs and hardcore, and yet provide equal opportunities as no one gets access to more powerful stuff.

That’s how you “train” people to PvP. By making it fun, accessible and frequent.

To these proposals some players replied that the PvP would lose all “meaningfulness” if you don’t risk to lose anything anymore. To that I replied that for me “meaningful PvP” is about communal objectives. Conquering and holding public space, expanding the empire.

I don’t intend and don’t like “meaningful” as a personal cost.

With that, I hope the argument is exhausted in all its points.

– lowering entry costs
– provide plenty of targets
– create a convergence
– add a strategic communal layer (conquest mode)

Factional Warfare further down the drain

More dev blogs arrived and they didn’t reassure of the situation, they made it, if possible, worse.

Factional Warfare is then nothing even close to make PvP more fun and accessible, it’s a way to PRETEND to do it. It works when it will be time to spread around banner ads for the game.

I was worried that the system allowed gankers to finally be able to gank everywhere in space as long their targets were in one of the three enemy factions (which is confirmed), now we learn that not only by enlisting you sign the right to be ganked everywhere, but EVEN NPCs HUNT YOU.

You’ll also find that, as a fully paid-up militia member, hostile factions won’t like you all that much. If, as an Amarr Militia member, I venture into Rens, the Republic Navy is going to try its hardest to clear me out. Be aware though! The Navies have finally twigged that two frigates and a cruiser aren’t really a significant threat these days, so they’ve upgraded their rapid response teams. Considerably. They won’t scramble, but if you hang around expect to get hurt.

Expect to get hurt.

Because these days two frigates and a cruise are no threat within A FUCKING SYSTEM MEANT TO BE ACCESSIBLE.

What the fuck. Petition CCP to forbid them the right to be able to use the “accessible” word ever again. They can’t fucking mean it.

And how they expect to protect the Factional Warfare system to fall in the hands of a dominating corp and use it to dominate the rest and destroy the fun for all other players? WITH A COCKBLOCK!


Alliances are not allowed to enlist, and neither are corporations in an alliance (or with an outstanding alliance application). There are a number of reasons for this, technical and otherwise, the most important of which is that we just don’t want the major power blocs to descend en masse and take over everything. It’s obviously not a hard limit on the players involved, but it’s designed to encourage the idea that if you’re a major player on the nullsec political scene you’re already doing something incredibly worthwhile and shouldn’t let yourself be distracted by the petty machinations of the Empires.

It reduces the likelihood of Factional Warfare being completely dominated by existing major players by forcing them to divide their characters and their focus if they want to participate without giving up their 0.0 holdings. We don’t envision it being a “hard limit” on Alliance players (as distinct from characters), but more a social, logistical and organizational inconvenience which will at the very least reduce their effectiveness a little when deploying Factional Warfare enabled fleets.

So, since they fear that the system can be dominated by existing major players and so losing its (pretended) accessibility, they forbid all alliances to join.

Like if it would prevent anything. This is equal to hide a mammoth behind a blade of grass. But the real reason is that CCP knows well their game. Better than you expect. They know that there are very limited slots for characters and this choice is a brand new incentive to make alts, and so create double accounts. And so pay more. Money ahead of gameplay. First give us money, then we think about how to make a good game.

NOTHING, absolutely nothing, prevents players to organize and dominate the Factional Warfare system. And IT WILL HAPPEN with mathematical certainty. Either that, or the Factional System is so badly designed that no one even cares about it. But if people care about it then you can be sure that someone will try to take over it and damage the fun of others.

If you expect that it won’t happen because you put there a minor cockblock then you are absolute fools who never observed dynamics in a MMORPG. Noobs.

I’ll tell you how it works. You don’t make a good game by limiting WHO can play it or access certain aspects. You make a good game by shaping HOW players interact with it and contribute.

Not who, but how. Anagrams.

CCP go back at fiddling with petty walking simulators and metallic-looking textures. It was better.

Enthusiasm for Factional Warfare already smothered

Goodbye to the hopes that Eve-Online may become a game I like and decide to play.

Two short posts of a dev on a forum and all the nightmares are coming alive:

If you sign up for a faction you can be attacked by anyone in opposing factions anywhere. it is that in low-sec we have marked out control points which will bring the combat to them making it easier for you to find and take part in.

Attacked by anyone anywhere? Wow…

This means they are basically removing the whole concept of CONCORD polishing empire space. It’s like in Ultima Online being ganked right next the bank in Britain because your guild declared war on another. Considering that there are four factions, it means that the number of targets in empire space will be still high, and that you won’t be safe anymore ANYWHERE.

Or: this game isn’t for noobs. Go away.

Then it gets worse:

This is something that should become clearer over the next few blogs, but for now let me just say that while there’s no functional limitations on what you can do solo, you may want to try and find some ad-hoc FW-buddies to give you a bit of leverage

No functional limitations.

It basically means that in practice if you are solo you’ll only be a bag of money for others, and there’s no fucking possibility that you can compete if you don’t have support of others. Or a lot of wealth to be ahead of others.

So the whole concept completely FUCKED. The accessibility of the system as the goal just completely gutted.

Instead of catering to those disorganized players who have difficulty to access the later part of the game, they make a system that is going to be used mainly and ONCE AGAIN by organized players who can take control of IT and farm the few noobs that are curious.

So what’s the difference from before? License to kill.

If before the gankers and carebears sit in two different places of the game, this system offers the gankers the license to liberally kill EVERYWHERE.

I was a FOOL thinking that CCP would develop something for all players and not just the hardcore as always. A fool.

Question: Does it mean I can also attack the opposing faction anywhere? I mean let’s take a stealth bomber to a newbie zone of the opposing empire and smoke some folks … or camp Jita just for the fun of it?

Dev: You can not go killing noobs with impunity by signing up. You can go killing anyone signed up to an opposed faction.

You, whoever you are or whoever is behind this idea, are an idiot.

What is the fucking difference if first you make the system as a “gameplay bridge” to encourage noobs and disorganized players to engage in PvP, and then say that you can’t kill noobs with impunity, because those noobs have just SIGNED to be killed with impunity.

This is simply a license to gank noobs who, like me, were fooled by CCP disguising a system as something accessible and made for everyone, when instead just feeding the hardcore with more targets.

Eve-Online Trammel/Fellucca features, the good and the bad

They put online the expansion page, so we got also the features list.

The good:

* Factional Militias
Governments on every side of the war are eager to recruit pod pilots, and have set up factional militias as a means of bolstering their standing navies. Each faction has a corporation open to all pilots with the appropriate factional standing minimums. CEOs and directors are also encouraged to bring their entire corporations under the aegis of the militias, to better fund and coordinate the war effort. Regardless of corporation membership, all militia members will share a chat channel and read-only mailing list.

* Ranks
Each of the factions relies heavily upon the support of their militias, granting the privateers great political clout. Talented pilots dedicated to the cause can rise through the newly-created ranks, 10 for each faction, by increasing their standing with their chosen militia’s corporation.

* Factional Warfare Agents
In order to handle the influx of mercenary pilots, each of the four militia corporations have hired new agents-over 320 in all. These new agents are specifically tasked with coordinating the activities of freelance pod pilots and assigning them missions inside territory held by enemy militias.

* Statistics
Due to the emphasis placed on the role of militias in the conflict, many stations now boast new Militia Offices. Pilots can track their own warfare victories and kill statistics, as well as those of their corporation and faction. Each pilot’s map has also been upgraded to better accommodate the increased flow of logistics data. The galactic map can now be configured to show occupancy status of a system, as well as detecting the presence of hostile navy forces.

* World Shaping
The confines of settled space cannot contain a war of this scale, causing the fighting to spill over into a new region. Named “Black Rise,” this new region contains 49 new star systems and nearly 40 stations, many of which are already sworn to one faction or another.

* System Occupancy
In light of the formal declaration of war, CONCORD is now recognizing a new level of system control beyond sovereignty: occupancy. Factions gain occupancy of a system by winning conflicts in contested complexes. When a militia accumulates a certain number of victories for its faction, it is authorized to assault the star’s System Control Bunker within 24 hours. Should the bunker fall to the attacking militia, a cease-fire is called in the system’s Factional Warfare Complexes, and that faction gains occupancy of the solar system.

This is looking very close to my expectations and original thoughts. Something linear like a military career with the goals and steps clearly defined.

The two important elements that are missing are about the faction itself providing directly the ship, modules and munition to fight. AND polish the combat zones so that same-rank players are equally matched and not wiped clean by someone who brought there a titan. Or insta-killed by a specialized corp that decided to take over a particular spot.

It’s absolutely indispensable that everyone can jump in, and that the tasks and battlegrounds zones are dynamically tweaked to regulate the players power, number of players active in the system and the zones distribution.

The bad:

* Factional Warfare Complexes
As war rages across the stars of New Eden, a myriad of hidden deadspace complexes have taken on great strategic importance. Militia pilots that successfully scan for a complex and hold it uncontested for a set amount of time will claim it for their faction, and be rewarded with corporate standing-as well as more tangible benefits. But capturing these points of interest will not be easy, as they’re guarded by rival naval forces. Speed and cunning are required to keep these important sites out of enemy hands, which is why microwarpdrives have been cleared for use in the complexes.

My fears is that instead of a dynamic mission system, they are using a fixed zone-based one.

Holding a complex uncontested may as well sound like sitting in one place for “x” hours doing nothing at all. This really needs to stay out of the game.

The system itself should record the number of active players that are taking part in this system, THEN matchmaking them on the fly, directing them to the active system, or spreading them, or tweaking the zones so that the players are sent to fight in their proper-rank zone.

Permanent complexes are a threat to the accessibility of this system if they aren’t controlled and managed by the system. With the risk that once again new and unorganized players don’t have the chance to participate and things fall again in the hands of a minority.

Factional Warfare finally not just vaporware? (Trammel/Fellucca)

I remember to have read not long ago, somewhere I can’t track again, a critics about Eve-Online, saying that when you spent a year developing a graphical upgrade and now your bigger project is about an avatar system that is only going to be used for social purposes, then it’s rather clear that your aim isn’t to enhance the gameplay but just to make the dress prettier.

Now if someone can remember the source I would be immensely grateful, so I can quote it.

I was noticing that the launch of the graphical upgrade in December lead to a predictable behavior. If you look at the server activity you can notice that there was a bump up in the number of players that lasted about three months, and now the curve, for the first time in a long time, is seeing a consistent, progressive dip.

I have no idea what goes on inside the game and why the player activity is decreasing so sharply, but my guess is that this is the direct consequence of the game development strategy. Just working on the surface of the game (the graphic) means that you get good short term results, but once the novelty is over the players who came back (or joined) to check the shiney will just leave again. I am one of them.

Eve-Online didn’t reach its maximum potential. But it did reach the topmost *exposition* it could aspire. What does this mean? That the game won’t benefit anymore for a better presentations to lure in new players. Months and years ago the game needed all the exposition it could get, because there were a whole lot of players who didn’t know the game and didn’t know it was a good and special one, deserving consideration. But now the potential reach is tapped and if CCP wants to grab even more subscribers they have to change their strategy: no more trying to publicize their game and improve just its presentation, but trying to aim for those players that are warded off by Eve design, and who don’t find the core of the game (the deeper layers and interactions between players) accessible. I’m again one of them.

I subscribed again in December to check the new shineys, and shortly after canceled again because the perspective of running again a bunch of dull, repetitive missions to grind money and standings didn’t appeal me at all. It simply means that the kind of gameplay that I saw within my reach wasn’t worth my time. And that I didn’t have the concrete competence and expectation to move away from that dullness and toward more interesting and compelling game.

This is firstly and foremost my incompetence at getting hooked in the community and the deeper layers of the game. But it’s also a flaw of the game that wasn’t able to ferry me (or provide the means) to that part of the game. It left me alone, in space. In the absolute, frightening loneliness that the immense space represents. Alone and doing grindy, aimless missions dressed up as a pretty screensaver mixed with an Excel spreadsheet.

If this was just a personal case then it wouldn’t be worth consideration, but my idea is that it’s instead an enormously widespread situation that not only is relevant, but that I believe it’s decisive to the future and growth of the game. And also with a higher, important task for the whole MMO development industry: demonstrate that PvP games with layers of complexity can be both extremely popular and accessible to the masses without sacrificing that complexity, but building on it and taking advantage of it.

The keys to all this lies in the “Factional Warfare”. I discussed already at length the possibilities of this system and the important point is that it plugs in the game a junction ring between the dull PvE game all the players see when they begin playing, and the more complex PvP game and player-driven gameplay.

Eve-Online’s future depends on that junction ring. The possibility to move players toward more interesting gameplay, to showcase better its qualities, to offer stronger hooks so that the players are motivated to stay and continue to p(l)ay. Something exciting. Goals to achieve.

Or: directed gameplay offering, but not forcing, patterns to follow inside a freeform game. It’s not an easy task to achieve, but it is possible and, in particular, worth it. Both for the concrete success and long term profitability of the game AND showing the whole game industry that it can be done.

In my mind, concretely, this takes the shape (or the example of many possible shapes following a similar pattern or model) of a military career. Not anymore just disconnected, solo missions. But a more fleshed out system where you get medals, gain new ranks, get access to specific, “leased” equipment. Hooks, rewards. Something players can desire and look forward to. Both short and long term objectives that keep players hooked to the game.

My “ideal” game that I described in the past had a lot of this: from a side you have what Eve already has, a complex structure of player-driven organizations that take control and manage parts of the game and resources, from the other a system-driven factional structure that puts all the new players, RIGHT AWAY, together in an NPC/system driven faction (or factions as Eve already has four NPC empires).

This scares a lot of players and CCP itself because they fear that this major shift can destroy the first layer and lose many players that like the game as it is now. It’s a well founded worry but that can be overcome if the system is well designed. The goal is to not introduce one layer at the expense of the other, but making the two interact, one orbiting around the other. And, in a later stage, when the new system is well-oiled, link directly the two so that the current corps can use the new possibilities within their own independent space.

Risky and ambitious, sure. But worth it if there’s the possibility to advance the whole game industry and really innovate toward something valuable: accessibility and depth.

In short the Factional Warfare should provide an almost linear pattern that clueless players can follow. A “career” not in the sense of class, but a linear path with goals and rewards. Showing the players the path, leading them to the next step. Clearly defined so that you don’t get lost. With an UI panel dedicate to it where you can track your own stats and progress clearly, showing what to do next.

So: a linear path very similar to those in other popular and simpler games, but then modular and hooked to the other layer: the factional warfare. Where the efforts of those players are collected and then have visible outcomes on the way the four NPC empires develop, expand or shrink. Dynamically. In the same way players and corps fight each other in zero security space, the NPC driven empires should battle each other and offer a similar, more directed, layer. With a mix of generated missions, both PvE and PvP, inside zones working like PvP battlegrounds, BUT PERSISTENT. And as controlled environments where those who enters share the same condition (a similar level of equipment that can be chosen between various possibilities/sets offered). So matching the fun and depth of factional PvP with the accessibility of the system that allows everyone to jump in and have fun.

The “sandbox” game shouldn’t be the antithesis to the linear one. It should be instead a complex environment where both linear and freeform patterns can coexist. Helping the players to choose the one they like better, or move more easily from one to the other, and back again as they wish.

The risk isn’t about removing parts of the game that the current players enjoy. The risk is about offering alternatives that some players may like better. This isn’t a bad thing at all (but may bring back memories of the Fellucca/Trammel separation). It may change the way the game is shaped, but it’s more important to rise the bar and do something ambitious (and motivated), than simply be conservative. Then observe what happens and, if things look too unbalanced, work to give the other part of the game new exciting tools and possibilities. Raising the bar, pushing things forward while paying attention and make the changes that are needed.

I talk about this because after a very, very long silence they are starting to talk about this again.

So, we have this expansion coming out this summer called Empyrean Age. It’s going to be pretty neat, and it’s going to include this thing called Factional Warfare, which is a feature we’ve been talking about for a fair while now and is generally regarded as something of a big deal. Over the course of the next week or so I’m going to thrash out the fundamentals of the entire design in a series of blogs, starting with this one.

This summer? I wouldn’t count on it considering the past experiences.

Their goal is not far from the ones I’ve set a while ago while commenting the game and that I repeated here:

There are a lot of things that Factional Warfare could be. What it is, right now, is in its most basic form a gameplay bridge from high sec to null sec – from the safety of Empire to the wild lands of Alliance space. High sec and null sec have very differing communities of players with very divergent play styles, and while moving from one to the other is obviously possible, it’s harder than it should be.

Factional Warfare provides a halfway house for players from Empire to get into the sandbox at the shallow end. It serves other functions too, for other types of player, but this is its primary function.

The core gameplay element of Factional Warfare is small-scale PvP combat. We believe that rounding up your posse, rolling out into contested space and having a healthy exchange of opinions and weapons fire with your sworn enemies is fun. Factional Warfare is designed to make this kind of experience accessible, with low entry requirements and a target-rich environment.

Underline mine, as I can’t stress enough that a core concept of PvP is the convergence more than the open wide spaces. Players need to know clearly where to go, what their goals and rewards are, and be able to jump in at any time.

What I ask may sound like exact copy of WoW’s PvP. The difference is that this system should fix the two parts that WoW fucked: social cooperation and persistence. So that those battles will be meaningful, so that the goals can be shared and players feel part of a greater cause, and so that they can organize together and see the outcome of their efforts.

Something that joins the complexity of Eve-Online, with accessibility and compelling gameplay.

Give us true battlegrounds and warfare, from small scale to epic. Not the fake paintball of WoW. One model doesn’t necessarily contradicts the other, and it is possible to take the best from both.

And hire some designers and programmers, instead of just more and more artists.

CCP/Eve headcount

As recent as last week:

We’ve never been shy about letting the community know approximations of the number of active subscriptions (approaching 170k), trial accounts (about 22k), peak concurrent users (34,420), staff (201), etc. Information like that is normally mentioned on the forums or in news items, so it may be hard to spot. Most of the forum regulars see the numbers and will generally pass the information along to those that ask.

Just the renovation of all the 3D models in EVE (not including the graphics engine) is about 80 people.

EVE is still growing rapidly, we’re about 2000 short of 170.000 paying subscribers. Not counting EVE China or trials.

Reaching 160K at christmas, Jan and Feb were slow, now going on 170K. That’s paying subscribers.

They seem now bigger than Mythic. But I guess it depends on what you consider “staff”.

Of those 201, 150 are working on Eve. The rest? I don’t know, but CCP is working on different projects.

And about this specific gripe, they also have something interesting to say:

player: There used to be a time when the only thing CCP thought about, and MORE IMPORTANTLY, every individual at CCP ever thought about was EVE. This was the core group of developers that made EVE, that launched EVE, that imbued EVE with life. This core group of developers is now sundered both in their minds and at thier company.

Oveur: The new MMO is being made in Atlanta to prevent this from happening. A new team is being built there to prevent this from happening.

I drink the Kool-Aid, the fact that the WoD game is being built elsewhere wipes most of my concerns. Good work.

Eve-Online quote-play

In a recent comment I wrote that I don’t like much Eve’s current direction. I’m done commenting game design so I won’t go in detail, but here some meaningful quotes.

The first comes from a dev blog and demonstrates I wasn’t so wrong:

Invention was supposed to be the revolutionary feature of Revelations and should have changed the entire science and industry genre as we know it, with the potential side effect that could change the biggest part of the player economy; Tech 2.

However, the effect that invention was supposed to bring has not yet been seen.

Only a couple players had managed to build an interface.

Then we can pass to give a look at Eve current development schedule. For reference you can use the previous battleplan and the E3 news.

The biggest disappointment to me is that the main feature of Kali seems completely GONE from their plans. Not delayed, gone. They used to describe the whole expansion as:

The upcoming expansion to EVE Online—codenamed Kali—will introduce an innovative Advanced Reactive Content System (ARCS), in which the political landscape and physical borders of nation-states within the game can be altered dynamically through the collective outcome of player actions, thus directly controlling the game universe destiny and resulting storyline.

This was in the form of “Factional Warfare” that I described throughly, analyzed in design potential and praised as one of the most interesting thing ever.


In their dev blogs there aren’t anymore references to Factional Warfare. The Kali patch isn’t anymore named Kali, but “Revelations”. And the three chunks (Spetember 06, December 06 and April 07) once again delayed. Oveur:

The engine itself is a bit different, depending on whether you are talking about our optimizations to our DX7/9 engine or the optional Vista engine – or the actual combination of both which is the big package. Currently, the big bada-boom is in Revelations 3 at the end of the year.

“End of the year” almost surely meaning you won’t see anything till 2008 and later. Another full year delay on top of the year delay on their 2006 plans.

Don’t mock me when I think of Vaporware when they talk about walking on stations with models turning their head dynamically toward noise to simulate human behaviours. From a dev blog:

This brings us to an area of computer graphics called dynamic avatar human-to-human interaction. It tries to apply knowledge derived from years of research of human body language into the actions of computer generated avatars, so that their behavior mimics human behavior without the user or NPC controller micro-managing every little twitch of the body or glance of the eyes.

This is one of the areas that we intend to research and apply to our animation system.

V – A – P – O – R – W – A – R – E

But I was writing about Factional Warfare. You would think that CCP has OODLES of time if they waste it on this kind of TOTALLY USELESS (and very, very pretentious) shit. Oveur says that Revelation 3 at the end of 2007 will be the engine upgrade to Vista. So Factional Warfare is for Revelation 2? From a dev blog:

Following Revelations 1.4, we’ll be refocusing our efforts on Revelations 2. It was covered at fanfest, that we have the hots for warfare in Revelations 2 on all levels. But what does warfare & the increased emphasis on improving current content rather than adding new stuff really mean?

So “Warfare”. No more “Factional”? Why? Just playing with names? Not adding more “new stuff”?

Uhm, no. It looks like the “increased emphasis on improving current content” means that the “Factional” is gone. Or at least that’s what I understand when they describe the new “Warfare” without the “Factional”:

We want to improve the goalsetting in warfare, by improving and adding options to player buildable infrastructure. This means improving Starbases, Outposts, Stations and Sovereignty. However, Warfare also needs something to fight with, so we want more tactical and strategic components there.

As you can imagine, this isn’t only for the people shooting, this creates goals for everyone, a fighter can’t survive without his industrial backbone. The industrialists must build the infrastructure and the merchants are there to supply the essentials you can’t acquire yourself. It’s all interconnected.

Then they go commenting fleet combat changes. Uhm, that’s a blatant U-turn. Factional Warfare was about everything but combat.

The orginal Factional Warfare was NOTHING about big ass fleet combat and uber guild PVP. It was instead a “bridge” between casual players and those big corps. It was a way to make the NPC empires an active part of the game. The kind of work that Eve needs from a very long time. See the quote above about the “Advanced Reactive Content System”. Or the bottom level of the Factional Warfare right from their own description:

The initial idea is that players can elect to take on missions as mercenaries – in which case the reward will be mainly monetary – or as enlisted soldiers, where they will be rewarded with increased standings and discounted ships and equipment. With the contract system in place alongside it, FW can be something individuals or even alliances can sign up to, with contracts for single missions or for the duration of a long-term campaign.

Whether through trade, bounty hunting, resource allocation or even combat, FW is entwined with the very EVEness of Eve itself. It is where the rich background of Eve will come to life.

This is all gone. Now “Warfare” just means a patch that will affect fleet combat. It’s a combat mechanic patch. Nothing about the original plan. Not even close. It’s a completely different direction.

Which couldn’t be put more clearly:

all Warfare improvements in Revelations 2 are aiming for the same thing. Even though it’s improving current features, it’s encouraging gameplay which not only is more fun and easier to jump into, it’s also good for the general performance of EVE.

Time to backfire on CCP? Is this the result of TomB replacing Lekjart as Lead Designer? Quoting myself at that time:

Of course these are all early claims with no substance. Yet. But mmorpgs are long term projects and the shit that happens *today* is crucial for tomorrow. When everyone will have already forgot what happened and what brought the change of pace.

Of course all these delays also mean that CCP staff is so idle and bored that they decided to keep themselves busy by working on a new MMO.

And to conclude, subscriptions news that you can compare with my previous report:

less than 20% of the EVE community have 2 or more subscriptions. The other 80+% are single account users.

We have just over 156k subscriptions and an average of 15k active trial accounts as of the reported metrics at the beginning of the month. There were 34,420 players logged in on Tranquility Sunday afternoon.

Sir Bruce, the owner of is a great guy.