For a few days each year, hundreds of EVE Online
players from across the world flock to a frozen volcanic rock at the top of the world for the annual EVE Fanfest. I was on the ground at EVE Fanfest 2017
last week in
Reykjavik to get the latest on what’s ahead for EVE
and CCP’s other titles, and it was a thoroughly enlightening experience. We learned all about CCP’s amazing plans
to roll out adaptive AI-driven PvE across the game world, talked to players and developers, and heard about the next stage of Project Discovery
that will let players search for real exoplanets in space.
We also got hands-on with CCP’s immersive VR sport game Sparc, looked at Valkyrie‘s new Groundrush game mode that has players fighting inside huge structures on a planet’s surface, and confirmed that DUST 514 successor Project Nova is still in development. There were talks at Fanfest that we just didn’t get a chance to go to, and others that really have to be seen first-hand. Thankfully, CCP has recorded most of the event and has begun uploading talks to the EVE Online YouTube channel.
In this edition of EVE Evolved, I’ll be running down some of the highlights of the official videos from EVE Fanfest 2017 for those who missed the event.
Last week, we covered CCP’s
new plan to change EVE Online’s
30-day sub currency, PLEX, by effectively breaking it into smaller chunks
and turning it into more of a cash shop currency that’s more easily fungible and tradeable.
It was an announcement not without its detractors, as Massively OP’s EVE columnist Brendan Drain explained over the weekend: Some players were miffed that PLEX will be transportable without the risk of ship-to-ship movement, while others grumbled about the short-term effect on the market and poor conversion rates for the secondary currency, Aurum, and the lack of conversion for players with fewer than 1000 Aurum. And as is common with such in-game economies, still others are up in arms over apparent market corruption, as it appears that players with insider information began trading ahead of the announcement to manipulate the economy — as Brendan suggests, likely a CSM (player council) member privy to information ahead of the embargo lift.
Today, CCP posted an update meant to assuage some of the concerns about the new program.
This week CCP Games
announced that some big changes are on the way for PLEX
in EVE Online
. The PLEX or “30-day Pilot’s License EXtension” is a virtual item that represents 30 days of subscription time and can be bought for cash and then sold to other players for in-game ISK. This simple mechanic has proven to be one of the most important innovations in the subscription MMO business model over the years, allowing players with lots of in-game wealth to effectively play for free while permitting cash-rich players to buy in-game currency without funding dodgy farming operations that can disrupt the game world. Dozens of games now support some kind of player-mediated currency roughly like PLEX
The proposed changes are intended to simplify EVE‘s business model by merging PLEX with the microtransaction currency Aurum. Players will also be able to put their PLEX into invulnerable account-wide PLEX Vaults that are accessible at all times rather than having to move the valuable items manually by ship. There’s been significant backlash from the EVE community over the newfound invulnerability of PLEX, plans to delete some microtransaction currency from the game without compensation, and the possibility that someone leaked the announcement to friends early in order to make a profit. So what’s the deal with these PLEX changes, and why are some EVE players going nuts over them?
In this edition of EVE Evolved, I look at the upcoming changes to the safety of PLEX, the opportunities that more granular PLEX could have for EVE, and why players are up in arms over plans to delete Aurum from thousands of accounts.
The space air is electric with excitement as EVE Online has opened up the vote for the next members of the Council of Stellar Management. There are many candidates from all around the world vying for a spot on the influential player council.
According to CCP, the CSM is “a player advocacy group, consisting of 10 members democratically elected by the players to advise and assist CCP in the continuous development of EVE. The CSM brings focused, structured feedback from the community to CCP and represents its views and interests.”
And if you really want to nail home that old cliché of EVE being “spreadsheets in space,” check out the many, many graphs of the game’s February economic report. Read it to your kids at night to get them to sleep!
The EVE Online community was a little surprised this week by what appeared to be the accidental early reveal of the feature list for this summer’s update. Someone noticed that the official EVE Updates page had a new “summer” section filled with details of upcoming features but with placeholder images attached. The page disappeared shortly thereafter, but not before someone snapped a screenshot of it and published it to Reddit. CCP Falcon tweeted that this wasn’t a leak but that “a few cards were published early without images” and they’ll be re-published properly on Monday. This hasn’t stopped the EVE community and bloggers from speculating heavily on the content of the early reveal, and I must admit that I can’t resist doing the same.
The summer update comes ahead of the Drilling Platforms discussed in my previous article, but it looks like part of the impending resource-gathering revolution is coming early in the form of a complete re-design of the mechanics behind asteroid belts. Strategic cruisers will also be getting a significant balance pass across the board, and the recently announced Exoplanet search minigame will be coming to Project Discovery. The update also includes graphical overhauls for several space station types, redesigns of the Vexor and Ishtar drone ships, new explosion graphics, and improvements to the new player experience. Outside the game, we’ll be getting all-new forums boasting new features for sharing and engagement, and a chat system that keeps going even when the server is offline.
In this edition of EVE Evolved, I dig into a few of these early reveals and speculate on what they might mean for EVE. Is a total mining overhaul coming earlier than expected, and could we get EVE chat on our phones?
announced today that it’s once again seeking to fill out the ranks of Skyforge’s
Elder Guardians. The EGs are sort of a cross between EVE Online’s
council of stellar management, Star Wars Galaxies
‘ old senate, and Ultima Online’s
counselor crew. Their mission? “To break down communication barriers between the developers and the community while assisting the community managers in Skyforge
related issues and the forums.”
“Elder Guardians are the bridge between players and the My.com Team. Elder Guardians can help mediate issues in-game, provide guidance, and help prevent conflicts from escalating. Additionally, the can help the My.com Team test bugs and provide player perspective insights about Skyforge. Elder Guardians are generally good individuals to go to for advice on game play and for questions. Elder Guardians have also a direct link to the Skyforge Team and have therefore the ability to alert the My.com about any critical issues that need immediate attention. You can recognize Elder Guardians by their [EG] tags within the game and within the forums by their forum title. This group of players will have no affiliation with My.com and will directly help the community team in the cause of everything Skyforge. Elder Guardians are normal players that express special interest in Skyforge and its Community.”
My.com is hunting for such players among community leaders, Discorders, and forum participants; all you’ve got to do is fill out the form. The studio chooses from there.
When the winter is coldest on the coast of Iceland, CCP lugs out its 20-foot wooden alpine horn and blows a signal that can be heard across the Atlantic. The sound awakens all EVE Online players from their hibernation and lets them know that it is time once again to form the next Council of Stellar Management.
Starting in February, EVE Online will begin the process of electing a player council to advise and provide feedback for CCP on game matters over the next year. During February, players can apply and be processed as potential candidates. In March, the community will vote on their favorites, and in April, the 12th CSM will be announced at this year’s EVE Fanfest.
One detail of note for this year is that all players — even free-to-play accounts — may apply to join the CSM. The current CSM is participating in a second and final summit at the end of January in Iceland.
Recently I’ve been looking at how EVE Online
will be affected by the introduction of free-to-play “alpha clone” accounts
in its upcoming November expansion, but there’s a lot more coming in the update
than just free accounts. New players will also be met with a completely new story-driven introduction instead of a standard tutorial, and a new ghost fitting system will let players try out ship designs using virtual ships. PvE immersion is also due for a boost as NPCs will begin harvesting ore in asteroid belts and engaging in some industrial operations just like players.
The central feature of the as-yet-unnamed expansion will be the introduction of a new line of player-built citadels for us to build and fight over, this time with a specialised focus on manufacturing and research. Gang and fleet warfare throughout EVE also seems set to change for the better, with a complete redesign of the fleet boost mechanics and the removal of controversial off-grid boosters. Titans will be given new strategic superweapons that provide huge gameplay-bending effects to large areas of the battlefield, and the Rorqual capital mining ship is getting a serious buff.
In this edition of EVE Evolved, I look at a few of the features that have been announced for the November expansion and speculate on how some of them might impact EVE.
EVE Online Executive Producer Andie “CCP Seagull” Nordgren has addressed EVE players in a new video posted to the official site. Nordgren apologizes for the recent game outages that were the indirect result of a massive hardware upgrade and data center move for the game. All characters with an active skill queue will be granted 200,000 skill points as compensation for the unexpected downtime.
The team is turning its attention to Citadel now, Seagull says, but the date has still not been finalized. What’s beyond Citadel? That’ll come at EVE Fanfest next month.
CCP is also touting Project Discovery, its in-game minigame that actually puts players to work on real-world protein mapping. “Citizen science starts with you,” Nordgren jokes.
In other EVE news, voting for the 11th Council of Stellar Management has opened; there are 53 candidates all ostensibly vying to make EVE great again, and you can cast your vote until March 25th.
Podcasts are certainly splendid means of feeding one’s MMO interests and keeping in touch with the news and community. It’s always great to hear others speaking with passion and interest about the same games that you play, and often times hosts will discuss angles and strategies that you’ve never considered before.
Whether you listen to podcasts during a commute, while playing the very MMO the episode is covering, or while doing menial tasks, these shows can be a soothing balm to an otherwise stressful or annoying day.
If you’ve ever wondered what ‘casts are out there for MMOs you’re playing, then this is the guide for you! We’ve got a hopefully largely comprehensive guide to game-specific podcasts to fill up your MP3 player. Are we missing one for a certain MMO? Let us know in the comments and we’ll add it!
Some MMO studios have decided as part of their efforts to foster understanding with the community to implement player councils. These councils, which are made up of regular players who may or may not be elected by their fellow gamers, serve as representatives for their communities and provide personal feedback to developers that may or may not shape the future of the game.
My question to you today is, are these councils useful or pointless?
I’ve always felt that player councils are not the best ideas. At worst, they’re merely empty gestures by studios and a reason for devs to ignore most of the players (since they’re being “represented.”). At best, it gives a large amount of influence into the hands of a few. I’m also not fond of the NDAs and secretive meetings that happens between the devs and the councils.
What do you think? Do player councils help MMOs? Or is this just high school class government all over again?
Because of when EVE Online’s Fanfest is happening this year, the election process for the game’s Council of Stellar Management has started earlier than in years past.
Candidates for CSM 11 can submit their applications starting on January 15th and continuing through February 9th. Voting for CSM will take place between February 29th and March 25th, and the results will be announced on April 21st at Fanfest.
This player council is instrumental in advising developers on fan concerns and suggestions and meets several times in person with the dev team in Iceland over the year. Candidates must be 18 years old and may run under a pseudonym if desired.
Two weeks ago, a mathemagician over at The Nosy Gamer published some interesting calculations showing that EVE Online‘s subscriptions may have dropped by around 18% in the past two years. CCP has always prided itself on the fact that EVE has grown year-on-year since release, but the last official number we heard was when it reached 500,000 subscriptions back in February 2013. Players have taken the company’s silence since then on the matter of subscriptions as an admission that subs have been falling or at least not growing for the past two years.
So where did this 18% figure come from? It was extrapolated from estimates of player participation in the last two CSM elections, and the reasoning behind the number seems pretty good in the absence of any official announcement. It will probably not come as a shock to anyone if this calculation turns out to be accurate, as EVE‘s concurrent player numbers have also seen a roughly 20% drop since 2013. As development on EVE has been very well-received over the past two years, I’m inclined to believe that the drop in activity has more to do with trends in today’s gaming habits and purchasing choices. Online gaming seems to be going through an evolution, and the mandatory subscription model may be becoming obsolete.
In this edition of EVE Evolved, I run through a set of calculations to work out how many subscribers EVE really has, determine where the reported 18% drop is coming from, and ask whether this is a trend CCP can fight.