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EVE Online Interview: Learning From The Prospector Pack, PVP And Teaching New Players

Joseph Bradford Updated: Posted:
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EVE Online’s dev team is no stranger to controversy. So when late March a group of prominent players banded together to protest the release of the Prospector’s Pack which sold a fully fitted mining barge to players, CCP Games acknowledged the very real issues players brought up and pulled the pack from sale.

It’s been interesting because much of the fear surrounding RMT sales in  EVE Online seemed to have intensified ever since Korean MMO giant Pearl Abyss acquired CCP Games a few years back. However, one aspect that CCP Games has always pushed back on is that the Pearl Abyss specter is not actually the case. CCP pulled the pack from sale, promising to incorporate player feedback more in these decisions in the future. The reasoning behind the Prospector’s Pack, according to creative director Bergur Finnbogasson, was simple: to help new players.

“[T]he initial intention of the [Prospector’s] Pack is to help new players find their place in New Eden,” Bergur told MMORPG in an interview last week. “And like everyone knows, getting a new ship is a big daunting task for the first time. And this has been something we tested out with a destroyer pack a couple of years ago where we basically allowed players to buy a fully fitted ship to go out and do something a tiny bit more complicated than just flying a Corvette.”

Bergur specifically mentions the hurdles that new players go through learning how to get a new ship, fit a ship, and grasping these fundamentals of EVE Online. Part of the new New Player Experience teaches new capsuleers the basics of these concepts, but it can still be daunting for a new player to really know where to begin once the training wheels are off. This is where, in CCP’s mind, the prospector pack came in to help new players get a head start so to speak.

“There has been a major hurdle for new players to actually find the ship, train to it, find all the modules, fit it, figure out the fitting system, fly to Jita, try to find all the correct modules, CPU power grid. Like, these things are awesome once you have started grasping the fundamentals of the game and you’re getting a little bit further down the line. But on day one, day two, day three – this is a massively daunting task.

“So the idea was ‘can we soften this blow? Can we smooth out this experience by doing something like allowing players to buy a fully fitted ship?’ On the speculation that we’re selling ships to everyone? No. The idea here is that this is a new player-focused feature trying to help players go into the playstyles that we have identified as good and healthy and exciting things for players to do at the beginning.”

Bergur points back to data that CCP has seen following the destroyer pack the company sold to players a while back. According to Bergur, once players who bought the pack “got a taste” of the new ship, it helped set goals and something concrete for players to strive for.

Bergur also mentions that selling a pack like this is just one part of an overall plan the team has to make it so these packs feed off the in-game economy and not simply be an outlier injected into the world outside the current system. It ties into the idea of getting new players into fully fitted, ready-to-go ships made by veterans.

“One of the things we’ve talked about for so long is how can we actually make these packs feed off the economy in-game,” Bergur continued. “We’ve been dabbling with this idea for a very long time; made by veterans for new players. There are a lot of really exciting opportunities we can do with something like this. First and foremost, we can get players into ready-made ships quicker, get them [quickly] into doing stuff so they can set themselves goals. But we can also start to teach them interesting things like using this as an opportunity to teach players about the player-driven economy. Teach players about the fact that every ship is created by someone.”

How the team plans on making these types of packs connected to the in-game economy is still something that would need to be worked out, but it’s an interesting thought to think of, especially since much of the consternation is these types of sales by CCP circumvent the ongoing player-run economy of New Eden.

“The idea here is basically everything, the shared contents of these packs are something that comes from the community,” Bergur went on. “It’s not made out of thin air.”

However, while the reaction was strong, CCP wasn’t upset by the public protest – the opposite according to Brand Manager Saemunder Hermannson.

“Apathy is EVE’s worst enemy,” Hermannsson stated in the interview. “Not people with passion for EVE and protesting or stating how they feel. It was really good to get this reaction. I like seeing people being passionate about it, and we made our statement, we’ve done an action and we’re following up with an improved version that is much more effective than the previous version.”

Passion is something that defines the EVE community, whether it’s passion for creating the best propaganda during a war, the state of PvP, industry, and more. Getting new pilots comfortable with New Eden and its ways is also an area where many capsuleers are stepping forward to help as well. Late March saw Stay Frosty’s PvP Free For All event, where the corporation provided fully fitted frigates to players who wanted to taste PvP without risking their own ISK.

It's always been a popular event and this year was even more so, breaking some in-game records in the process. According to CCP Games, this year's event took the record for the highest amount of single-system Lowsec kills, beating out last year's FFA. Additionally, this event became the 4th bloodiest single-system event in EVE Online history.

The 19th of March (the day of the FFA) also set the record for the most PvP kills across all of Lowsec space in EVE Online, beating out the previous bloodiest day in May 2013.

CCP Games also ran their own PvP events to coincide with the player-run event by Rixx Javix, and it's something Community Developer Bergur Theodórsson says could be more common with CCP’s events team planning them out. The team is also looking for ways they can promote player events in the future as well.

“In terms of actual numbers, we did break [the record for] the biggest fight in lowsec,” Theodórsson said. “It was super cool, and we [are] just right now on the drawing board. How can we do this again? How can we do more of this? Because so much stuff that happen in EVE comes from the players just doing it, so we’re trying to find ways to lift those events up when they put all this time and effort into creating such a big event.”

“It was a fantastic event,” Finnbogason added. “It is awesome when we involve the community, when we give more control to the community. […][T]his is the stuff that makes EVE possible, more awesome than other stuff.”

During Rixx Javix’s Free For All event, CCP held adjacent events, such as the Frigtae 2v2 PvP Abyssal Proving Grounds. Personally, I like the idea of adjacent events like this that fit with the flavor of the weekend. If you’re 99 jumps away from the system the FFA is taking place but want to get some killmails in, an adjacent event like that can go a long way towards scratching that itch.

It also leads into a larger issue the team is still tackling: how do you teach these concepts to new players in a way that is organic and not overwhelming? Events like the Free For All are designed to help new players learn to PvP in an environment that doesn’t introduce the risk that oftentimes makes players unwilling to engage in PvP. But how can CCP replicate this, teach this in a way that retains players rather than jettisons them out of the client and onto the next game?

EVE’s creative director likens it to working out. You don’t just start with diving right into the hardest workout routine, but rather you might start with curls to build the muscles. To teach PvP, Finnbogason mentions approaching it like this – you might not teach these basics on day one, but teaching the precursors you need to be able to tackle PvP when a player is ready.

“There are great opportunities to teach players about what it means to be in a fleet. How do you work in a fleet? What is the role of a Logi in a flee? [How] do we teach players about overheating? [We need] to teach these players about these core competencies that you need to have before you event start to think about doing PvP. Ultimately, the best teachers are fighting with others and those others telling you what happened.

“So what are the steps we can do to get people to that moment, get people to that place where they feel confident, and people feel like ‘Oh shit, these guys have the competencies to do this next step.’ So that is a very big conversation we’re having right now.”

Getting people there, though, isn’t going to be easy – something the team understands and is constantly working towards solving. Teaching players and getting them to understand why certain fits are being flown, or why some players might excel more than others a bit like chess according to Theodórsson. Learning from players who might swap out ammunition based on the hull they are targeting, or bringing in a different type of ship altogether is something players will learn through repetition – and a community willing to fill players in when a killmail is sent.

Ultimately, though, as EVE Online moves towards Fanfest in the short term, but the third decade of New Eden on the horizon, it’s something the team is looking to solve so that new players can engage in one of the most compelling reasons to play EVE.


Joseph Bradford

Joseph has been writing or podcasting about games in some form since about 2012. Having written for multiple major outlets such as IGN, Playboy, and more, Joseph started writing for MMORPG in 2015. When he's not writing or talking about games, you can typically find him hanging out with his 10-year old or playing Magic: The Gathering with his family. Also, don't get him started on why Balrogs *don't* have wings. You can find him on Twitter @LotrLore