It seems virtually impossible for a day not to go by in the world of EVE without a significant event changing the very nature of the game. The last two weeks were no exception, with a dramatic and sweeping statement by CCP Hellmar, followed up with an equally dramatic Devblog by CCP Zulu.
CCP Hellmar approached the EVE Online community and declared in no uncertain terms that the Incarna project had been, in effect, a failure. Not technically, but rather from a gameplay perspective. In the summer of this year we got to step into our Captain’s Quarters and witness the first component of the iterative Walking in Space project known for years by EVE Online players as Incarna. Initial excitement was quickly washed over with disappointment and outright rage as the botched roll-out of the EVE Online micro-transaction system featured vanity items which were easily equate-able to their real world counterparts in price, with some of them costing many tens of dollars.
What followed were a series of protests that not only shook New Eden, but also made gaming news headlines the world over. The entire Internet was ablaze with chatter about EVE Online, though for EVE Online this isn't anything particularly strange. The complex, in-depth and downright stunningly original world of New Eden continues to generate news, stories and endless content for the would-be player, and even the keen observer.
But with the Incarna expansion being launched under such a grim cloud and the subsequent rejection of the Captains Quarters almost entirely by the community, CCP was forced to renege on its commitment to the project, and refocus efforts on the development of Flying in Space. CCP Hellmar, CEO of CCP Games approached the EVE Online community and the greater gaming world and quite simply said: “We've made a mistake. We're sorry.”
For the CEO of a videogames company to admit a significant error is, in my opinion, incredibly brave. I've met CCP Hellmar at the Icelandic CSM Summits; the man is genuine and sincere in his person and with his words. He reminisced with us about how he helped to build EVE Online from scratch, about how coders sat in a dark room often working far longer than they needed to to make the project come to life. For him to come forth and admit that mistakes were made is not only brave, but a breath of fresh air in a world of pressed suits and 'New Game Experiences' which outright murder MMORPGs and then turn the blame on their communities for 'Not understanding their perspective'.
But this is a side of the coin that I've often said comes with a bitter taste. EVE Online players are gifted with an enormous ability to modify the game they play, even if they don't always feel like they do. The representative body that makes up the CSM is unprecedented in videogames, it's more than a simple PR group, it's the message of constituents mirrored in their elected officials. I've said this before, but it is effectively a means of petitioning God about certain elements of the world you don't like, and there's a very real chance he'll listen. In addition to this, EVE Online players enjoy a continued dialogue with the developers via mediums like the Official Forums, Facebook and even Twitter. But in exchange for these avenues of communication, we also get to witness error first hand. We become live guinea-pigs in an experiment that continues to provide strange and unexpected results.
Beyond CCP Hellmar's apology letter, CCP Zulu followed it up with a devblog which quite frankly blew the entire community not out of the water, but into the stratosphere. CCP announced an unconditional refocusing of their efforts directly into doing exactly what the EVE Online playerbase and the Counsel of Stellar Management had asked them to do: Fix EVE, build EVE, focus on EVE. And that’s EXACTLY what CCP Zulu promised us and I'm confident that he and the team at CCP will actually be able to deliver, probably because I might have a little bit of insider information about it.
Right away the devblog laid down the immediate course for EVE Online as a game over the next few months with a solid plate of morsels for the community to feast its eyes upon. These included but were not limited to: Time Dilation, More Captains Quarters, New Fonts, Ship Spinning, T2 Reg Manufacturing, New EWAR Drones, Starbase Logistics Management, New T2 Modules, Capital Ship Rebalancing, Assault Ships, Faction Warfare and Hybrid Weapon Rebalancing. We were stunned. We all were.
To suddenly go from relative silence post-Incarna to an explosive announcement of not only an apology, but a bounty of gifts like mana from heaven was all a little too much, and many of us admittedly passed out or became flustered and overly emotional. Tears were shed, men broke down in the streets and women clutched their children with joyous embrace and in a single swoop CCP had rekindled a hope that existed amongst all of EVE’s players that the future would once again be bright.
The CSM were no less excited about the prospect of the game being shifted in a direction that we had been lobbying for since the release of Incarna. We assisted CCP in the same way every CSM that has come before us, and every CSM that will come after us has. We helped to guide and define the nature of the changes, though this by no means should be seen as us taking credit - contrarily, the bulk of the work and the strong and necessary decisions needs to make these changes have come entirely from CCP. Sufficed to say, we're as excited as you are about the up and coming changes to EVE Online, and we hope that it can only go from strength to strength.
Pulling ourselves back to the pseudo-reality of EVE Online for a moment, within the world in New Eden, the ever-shifting sea of friends and enemies continues to churn out new events and new surprises. This week we learned that NCDOT's standings reset was only the first part in what may be a greater separation inside the ancient entity we all know as the Drone Russian Federation.
Now content with their technetium empire, it appears as though White Noise, RaidenDOT and friends may be turning their noses up at those who helped put them where they are now. As their profits scale into the sky and beyond, their need for help diminishes, and even if put under significant pressure: the powerful forces of Pandemic Legion are only a contractual engagement away.
But as back-rooms deals are made and broken, the CEO of Goonswarm Federation, The Mittani, in an act of boredom decided that it would be quite amusing to attempt to and relatively successfully control all of the Oxygen available in New Eden. A limited supply of High-security Ice belts exist in EVE, and Goonswarm is willing to pay the cost of bringing down even a suicidal death on the heads of anyone who now dares to touch the once abundant resource. As the community outpours rage over Goonswarm's brazen act, Goonswarm and its allies chuckle mercilessly as they flounder like fish out of water, unable to extract a means of living from the new quarantined Ice fields.
Meanwhile in the Delve meat-grinder, Ev0ke continues their brazen chest-beating in defiance of the CFC lead initiatives into the region. Their arrogance has stirred a twitch in the brow of the leadership of the CFC, and they now find the entire weight of the coalition crushing down upon them in a relentless assault on the region. Can the Germans outlast the Allies deep in their bunkers? Or will pressure simply be too great for the fresh-faced Delve defensive coalition? Once again, time will tell.