Friday, 1 July 2011

Eve: thoughts on recent events

There were a few problems with CCP’s management of events leading up until riots of the last weeks.

First was the degree of player power. As someone who grew up playing games mainly as sports in a school setting where strict teachers were the referees it astonishes me how little MMO companies want authority over their games’ rules. Nevertheless this has been the pattern in a great number of games and CCP more than most with the extraordinary manifesto they announced when creating the CSM, a player council that would be a partner in the game’s development.

So the players felt it was THEIR game, not CCP’s.

A related aspect to this issue was that CCP has tried to be on the players’ level rather than a remote authority. Many former players have been recruited to staff, many former staff still play and are active in the community. CCP staff sang a rap song HTFU to us last year (which I rather enjoyed) and have co-opted the Northern Coalition slogan Best Friends Forever for their development team. It’s too close, you can’t be both peers and in charge with any grace.

Next is the economic simulation. Eve has an inward-looking complex economy which plexes do not quite disrupt. However the cash shop breaks the fourth wall. It’s the developers peering out from behind the spell of immersion that the game creates and saying “Want to buy something cool?” It breaks immersion in a game where many players spend weeks and weeks perfecting their spreadsheets to manipulate virtual trends in a make-believe economy.

The last issue is the sense the player base has that the main thrust of the development effort is to something we see as superfluous fluff – walking in stations. It’s like someone improving chess by developing a cosmetic design feature for your Queen – it misses the point of the game. Of course Eve aims to be a world not just a game and a virtual world is more what these MMOs intended to be. So it’s certainly arguable that walking in stations is a good feature, it’s just one that many of us are underwhelmed by and since we feel its OUR game not CCP’s = powderkeg, lit recently by some rather greedy decisions.

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