LoxyRider Leaves CCP

CCP LoxyRider is leaving CCP. While every company deals with turnover at some point, and everyone who works for an organization contributes in one way or another, Loxy’s one of those guys who has put an enormous amount of time and effort into EVE, to the benefit of its community.

I’ve had the benefit of flying with Loxy when he was part of Body Count Inc., prior to him joining CCP’s EVE TV initiative.  At that time he was already responsible for some of the most amazing community-produced EVE videos, having a knack for pairing eye-catching scenes with epic soundtracks.

Put simply, the results were fucking amazing. It’s not surprising he caught the attention of CCP, and has since directed EVE TV into a fully competent production, and helped churn out some of EVE’s most fucking amazing trailers.

As a tip of the hat to everyone on his way out the door, Loxy leaves behind a brand new video called This is EVE III.  Check it out at the link below.

Please join me in wishing Loxy luck in his next endeavor, and hoping that Loxy he is able to find time for EVE as a player once more, continuing to produce videos that show off the true spirit of the game.


Third Weekend of Alliance Tournament 10

Well the third weekend of AT10  i s done, with the first set of matches in the group stages complete.  It was an interesting two days overall, showing some of the best and the worst EVE tournaments have to offer.  Lets break down some of the positive and negatives.

Positive: The Matches

This weekend saw the best matches so far. We had great fights, some with surprising results, and the tear-inducing loss by Pandemic Legion’s bajillion-isk setup, proving that sometimes money isn’t everything.

It interests me that we are seeing so many full team wipes this time, and I can only imagine the rules will get an overhaul to prevent this in future tournaments. It was also kind of funny when like three matches in to the qualifiers one of the commentators went off about how we weren’t going to see a lot of 100:0 matches this year.

But for all the steamrolling going on this weekend’s matches included a bunch that weren’t so clear cut at the start or even the middle of the match. It’s a good thing I’m not a betting man, or else my wallet would be fucked from my predictions even after seeing what fleets people had brought.  The teams really came through for those of us viewing, with interesting setups, interesting results, and most importantly: interesting matches.

Positive: The Studio 

The production quality of each AT gets better and better every time they do one, and this year’s is full of subtle tweaks that just makes the whole experience a smooth one.

The entire set is uncluttered, and doesn’t overpower the people who are at the center of the audience attention.  They’ve even finally moved into the 21st century with the earpiece CCP Loxy yells at CCP Soundwave through, no longer looking like he has six inches of telephone cord jammed into his ear canal.

Anyone else notice the lights under the drinks change from blue to red when the next match is ready?  Nice and subtle, reducing the finger-to-the-ear, “I’m getting a message from Starfleet that the next match is ready” shit that happened in previous tournaments.

Good stuff.  Now ditch the stuffed animals, this isn’t a playpen it’s professional internet spaceships esports for crying out loud.

Positive: Commentary

The match commentators really stepped up their game this weekend, showing that overall they really know their PVP. More importantly they’re able to articulate it to the masses, as much as that can be done for a game as complex as this.

The most notable mention here for me is Kil2, who CCP should seriously have on retainer for future tournaments.  The guy knows his shit, keeps his cool on air, and is the most clear and concise speaker the tournaments have ever had.

Most surprisingly, he didn’t look hung over from the night before, nor did he need some staffer to come up behind him with a handkerchief saturated with chloroform, helping him calm the fuck down. *cough*MichaelBoltonIII*cough*

Between the matches, CCP Soundwave exhibits his usual subdued-cleverness, keeping the guests on track and on time with the matches.  Token CCP staff join the fray to chime in on the matches, make predictions, and dangle juicy nuggets of future changes to the game.

Lets hope this level of quality can be maintained through to the finals.

Positive: Camera Work

Historically, tournament camera guys seem to have a contest about who can show the least interesting part of the matches.  This time around they actually seem to have put some effort into the little details. These include not doing a look-at on targets about to explode (the camera will just fly back to the cloaked camera ship, showing nothing), and angling the shot to give a good impression of how the skirmish fits in with the larger battle.

The big one for me, and this has got to be a part of the production group as a whole, is that whenever possible the stuff being shown off is also the stuff the commentators are talking about.  There’s nothing more annoying than having the commentators talk about how unfuckingbelievable a fight is, but the stream is following some ass in a Jaguar orbiting at the edge of the field. Kudos to all, for at least trying to cut down on this stuff.

Negative: Stream Stability

Admittedly this is an easy target, but it shouldn’t be. After this many tournaments, and all the incredible streaming options available, you’d figure this would be the least questionable aspect of the event.

We had sound delay issues, sound echo issues, sound dropout issues, several stream dropouts… ugh. At a certain point I tweeted that they should just fucking STOP and sort their shit out before bringing the stream back online, take the time to get it right and settled.

Tons of finger pointing happened by viewers of course, almost all of which can be ignored now that CCP Loxy’s dropped his wonderful post about the matter at the EVE forums in this thread.

After several hours of a perfect stream the EVE TV studio lost all internet connectivity.

Loxy’s questionable use of the word “perfect” notwithstanding, it’s good to know that the problem isn’t with the choice of stream provider nor for lack of trying by EVE TV folks. While the actual cause is still not known, hopefully they will be able to get this stuff sorted out by the time the final weekend comes around.

That way we don’t get more:

Negative: Missed Matches

This is obviously the result of the last item, but it sucks enough to be worth mentioning (and making a comic about). There’s nothing more annoying than having a match start, everyone’s all looking forward to seeing what’s going to happen, the first shots are fired, then … nothing.  And then the stream comes back minutes later with the last ship destroyed, lets go back to the studio where everyone says how awesome the match we didn’t see was.

Try this next time: “Hey everyone, sorry the stream shit the bed, why don’t those of us in the studio give a bit of a play-by-play of what happened since nobody other than us saw it.”

The silver lining: EVE TV’s crew has been stellar at getting the matches up on YouTube in a very timely fashion.


More positives than negatives… I like that.

To put it simply, when it was watchable it was a very good weekend to watch things explode, and hopefully the issues with the stream will not be present during the final weekend.

Things MMOs Can Learn from EVE

Brendan Drain’s latest over at Massively decided to detail four things he thinks other MMOs can learn from EVE’s example.  It got me thinking. Here’s his list:

  • An effective market needs buy orders: hell yes, and I can’t fathom why this isn’t a standard in all modern MMOs.
  • Iterate on old features: duh, and yet nobody seems to give a shit enough about their game to actually do this effectively.
  • Box sales don’t matter that much: obvious, given the push for digital distribution everywhere.
  • Regionalisation and shard servers: CCP are obviously smarter than everyone else since nobody has even come close to what EVE does in this regard.

I’ve got a few of my own that I figure are worth digging into.

Get Your Marketing Department Out of the Dark Ages

The world is social, and if your game’s marketing isn’t then you should probably fire them and hire someone more in tune with how to get the word out. When CCP started this it was a bit like a toddler trying to learn to walk on a moving treadmill, but I’m convinced they have some sort of fucking social machine sitting in Iceland hooked directly into transatlantic fiber.

They stuff content into the input receptacle and this thing fire hoses status updates and tweets like some sort of anime battleship main cannon.

Your Trailers Suck

Your pitiful level flythroughs and awkward combat animations are simply no match for Video Production and General Mindfuck department at CCP. The Inferno trailer teaches us a few things:

  1. CCP are really reaaaaally proud of their missile effects
  2. A patch list bullet point can easily be a central feature in a trailer when said trailer is produced by an organization that cares about what it does
  3. You don’t need to induce seizures with spastic visuals and dubstep overuse to get people interested.

Oh yeah, and that EVE Forever video from Fanfest…  goddamn.

Your Players Know More About Your Game Than You Do

Lets face it, designing and developing a game is fine but it’s the players who put in the ridiculous amount of hours to learn your algorithms better than even you do. They write the most useful guides, they learn how to overpower your content with ease, and they understand how all the bits and pieces come together.

So why are you ignoring their advice so much?  Sure they’re not on your payroll, but they’re bankrolling your paycheck and are willing to help you improve your game through “passionate suggestion” on your forums. Hire a few folks with patience and the ability to communicate, and park their asses in a place where they can feel that pulse of your community.

I’m not saying you need to establish your own microcosmic democratic nation made up of players, just maybe when everyone is saying what you are about to do to your game is a bad idea you might want to take a moment and ponder the possibility of them being right.

Embrace Change

Most other games stagnate to the point where they look dated, play dated, and generally aren’t worth the money when there are other more interesting options out there.  CCP continually invests in technical R&D, allowing them to do things like overhaul the entire game engine every once in a while.

Sure that’s risky, taking time and money but the benefit is your coming-up-on-a-decade-old game doesn’t look like it was made with Quake’s engine.

More importantly than just the visuals, look at the features of the game itself. Take the risk to say “this whole set of things, we’re going to have to change it to make the game better”. This is where I subtly refer you to the bit above about listening to what your players say, because if you communicate these changes early enough to your players you can get some awesome feedback on whether you’re on the right track.

Bonus: Think Of Australia

Practically every MMO has a maintenance schedule, and that schedule usually puts the maintenance hours smack in prime time gaming hours for those crazy Aussies. Admittedly it IS kind of funny when you start playing a game and there’s the same threads in forums from Australians complaining about how they pay for the game too and would love to play it, etc.

They’re sort of right. Take the time to improve your maintenance processes so your game isn’t down for half a day.  A game as complex as EVE now has “blink and you miss it” daily maintenance cycles (relative to what they were like way back), and that’s impressive.  Australians may live on a floating prison where every animal has some mechanism of delivering lethal neurotoxins, but prime time availability means you have a bigger market willing to pay for your game.

You may also save money on not having to lock so many forum threads on the same subject.


Anyway, these are just a few of my own ideas.  There are probably bazillions more that others can come up with too so feel free to speak up.  Sharing is caring.

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How to Destroy The EVE Community

Today has been a day that will live in stupidity. I’m a fairly positive person about things, as those of you who listen to the podcasts can probably attest to, but even I can’t help but be a bit speechless when seeing the events of the last day unfold. The sheer mind-blowingness of the whole thing is force multiplied by a factor of a million monocles when one keeps in mind who are the ones responsible for it all. Lets look at what happened.

It started out with this un-stickied thread by CCP Pann, which grew into a threadnought of biblical proportions almost instantaneously:

Hi, everyone

Some of you who have been around for a while may remember me. I was the original community manager for EVE. These days, I oversee the PR and Community teams. While most of what I do happens behind the curtains, I am still aware of what’s going on front and center. I would be lying if I said that what’s happening now didn’t make me sad, but I’m not here to ask for your sympathy. To be perfectly honest, I’m here to buy time while we try to sort things out. No sense in lying about it so I’ll call a spade a spade.

It’s clear that many of you are <understatement alert> angry </alert>. There’s a lot happening, things are changing quickly and we haven’t been as forthcoming as you were used to in the past. I’m willing to step out front and take a lot of heat for that since I was the one who made the decision to hold off on responding for a while to see if things cooled down once the new wore off.

I was wrong to do that and I apologize. We should have said something much sooner. We should have done more to address your concerns and be forthcoming, even if we weren’t going to be able to immediately give you all of the answers you were looking for or the answer your questions in ways that will instantly turn those frowns upside down. To be even more candid, I cannot answer all of your questions, either, but I am working with the people who can to start getting those answers for you. Again, I know we’re doing this past the expiration date of your patience but I hope you’ll bear with me.

I know that, with very few exceptions, most of you don’t know me from Adam. I haven’t earned your trust or respect; therefore I have no right to ask anything of you – but I am going to try, anyway. Can I please count on at least some of you to help bring the pitchforks and torches down a few notches?

Like I said, I won’t be able to answer all of your questions tonight, but I promise we’ll start getting some info out tomorrow. As I see it, the chief complaint is regarding the high cost of goods in the Noble Market. Second, many people are unhappy about the Captain’s Quarters. Third, there are some performance issues with Incarna. I would appreciate it if you would confirm my observations or tell me what I’m missing, but I do ask that you do it in a productive way. I will remove posts without prejudice if they are counterproductive to the conversation I hope to have with you.

If you’ve read this much, thanks for staying with me. If you have something to say, I’d like very much to hear it.

Humbly yours,

Later that day, probably due to the writeup needing to run through the spanking machine of CCP’s communications and PR departments, we get this bit of damage control. No wait, that’s not it…  it’s just more uncontrolled damage:

Dear concerned citizens of New Eden

This week has seen quite a controversy unfold. In almost the same instant as we deployed Incarna – which by the way is one of our more smooth and successful expansions, not to mention absolutely gorgeous – an internal newsletter with rather controversial topics addressed leaked out. To further compound the confusion there was a clear and rather large gap in virtual goods pricing expectation and reality with a large segment of the community. I‘m going to address both these issues right here.


Fearless is one of our company values. It‘s also the name of an internal newsletter that has been designed and developed specifically to catalyze discussions on controversial topics. One of the biggest elephants in the room these days, not just for EVE but for the gaming industry as a whole, is virtual goods sales and microtransactions.

Therefore we dedicated an entire issue to exactly that topic. It‘s worth mentioning that the topic of the issue was “Greed is good?” as a way to ask a question that would then be debated back and forth and often exaggerated purposefully to draw contrasts and make points. The result of that is now widely available on the internet.

The opinions and views expressed in Fearless are just that; opinions and views. They are not CCP policy nor are they a reliable source of CCP views as a company. The employees who submitted articles to that newsletter did exactly what they were asked to do, write about theories and opinions from an exaggerated stand.

While it‘s perfectly fine to disagree and attack CCP over policies or actions we take, we think it‘s not cool how individuals that work here have been called out and dragged through the mud due to something they wrote in the internal company newsletter. Seriously, these people were doing their jobs and do not deserve the hate and shitstorm being pointed at them.

Pricing structure

People have been shocked by the price range in the NeX store, but you should remember that we are talking about clothes. Look at the clothes you are currently wearing in real life. Do you have any specific brands? Did you choose it because it was better quality than a no-name brand? Assume for a short while that you are wearing a pair of $1,000 jeans from some exclusive Japanese boutique shop. Why would you want to wear a pair of $1,000 jeans when you can get perfectly similar jeans for under $50? What do other people think about you when they see you wearing them? For some you will look like the sad culmination of vainness while others will admire you and think you are the coolest thing since sliced bread. Whichever it is, it is clear that by wearing clothes you are expressing yourself and that the price is one of the many dimensions that clothes possess to do that in addition to style and fit. You don’t need to buy expensive clothes. In fact you don’t need to buy any clothes. Whatever you choose to do reflects what you are and what you want others to think you are.

We will gradually introduce items at other price points, definitely lower and probably higher than what‘s in the store today. We hope you enjoy them and are as passionate about them as you are of the current items that are for sale.

I hope I‘ve addressed your concerns and cleared up a lot of the issues you‘re having. We‘ll continue monitoring the forums and other communications channels and pick up and reply if there are concerns not covered by this blog.


Arnar Hrafn Gylfason

Senior Producer of EVE Online

And now the finale, delivered by none other than Hilmar himself, proving once again that community destroying business development tactics always come in threes:

Date: Thu, 23 Jun 2011 18:16:54 -0400
To: riverini@gmail.com
Subject: ccp ceo global msg sent today
From: evewatch@hush.com
Content-Transfer-Encoding: 7bit
Content-Type: text/plain; charset=.UTF-8.
Message-Id: <20110623221654.CF1E76F438@smtp.hushmail.com>

sent by hilmar to ccp global list-


We live in interesting times; in fact CCP is the kind of company that if things get repetitive we instinctively crank it up a notch. That, we certainly have done this week. First of we have Incarna, an amazing technological and artistic achievement. A vision from years ago realized to a point that no one could have imaged but a few months ago. It rolls out without a hitch, is in some cases faster than what we had before, this is the pinnacle of professional achievement. For all the noise in the channel we should all stand proud, years from now this is what people will remember.

But we have done more, not only have we redefined the production quality one can apply to virtual worlds with the beautiful Incarna but we have also defined what it really means to make virtual reality more meaningful than real life when it comes to launching our new virtual goods currency, Aurum.

Naturally, we have caught the attention of the world. Only a few weeks ago we revealed more information about DUST 514 and now we have done it again by committing to our core purpose as a company by redefining assumptions. After 40 hours we have already sold 52 monocles, generating more revenue than any of the other items in the store.

This we have done after months of research by a group of highly competent professionals, soliciting input and perspective from thought leaders and experts in and around our industry. We have communicated our intention here internally in very wide circles through the Virtual Economy Summit presentation at the GSM, our Fearless newsletter, sprint reviews, email lists and multiple other channels. This should not come as a surprise to anyone.

Currently we are seeing _very predictable feedback_ on what we are doing. Having the perspective of having done this for a decade, I can tell you that this is one of the moments where we look at what our players do and less of what they say. Innovation takes time to set in and the predictable reaction is always to resist change.

We went out with a decisive strategy on pricing and we will stay the course and not flip flop around or knee jerk react to the predictable. That is not saying nothing will change, on the contrary, in fact we know that success in this space is through learning and adapting to _what is actually happening_ and new knowledge gained in addition to what we knew before and expected.

All that said, I couldnât be prouder of what we have accomplished as a company, changing the world is hard and we are doing it as so many times before! Stay the course, we have done this many times before.


I know it’s been said a lot before around the EVE forums, and I’ve echoed the sentiment myself frequently over the past bunch of years: CCP is disconnected from its community. It’s done so in the hopes it can garner more attention from the media and prospective subscribers, to attract more MMO fans over to a wonderful world filled with spaceships, dedicated players, and a fully realized universe driven by the actions of its players.

It looks like the trailers were right after all: the smallest of your actions do resonate and affect thousands of players. Lets see how these ones resonate.


Bridge Over Troubled Waters

One of the things I hope to do more of around WDA is to comment on a lot of the articles I find on a day to day basis, some of which may sneak under the radar of most. Today’s victim is Ten Ton Hammer’s Space Junkie, who writes a very interesting article about how some coming changes in EVE might affect alliances.

Nobody wanted to scrape and save ISK, drop a station in null-sec, and then find out that CCP was suddenly making that system worth only a fraction of what it was. Indeed, I think it very likely that players can make better ISK per hour running missions in high-security space than trudging along in a system with wretched security status.

This is a good example of something I have noticed about MMOs: it is a game designer’s job to force players to have fun because, if players are left to their own devices, they will naturally pursue strategies that are effective rather than those that are fun. Someone has probably written the idea more succinctly, but you get the idea.

Actually I think that’s about as succinct as you can get, and it hits the nail squarely on the head. He goes on to discuss another pretty major change to jump bridges…

The next big change is slated for later this month. It will result in a maximum of one jump bridge per system (instead of two), an inability of capital ships with jump drives to use bridges, and a larger fuel hangar for the bridge. The long-term effects of these changes cannot be overstated.

This is awfully profound, and in my opinion a step in the right direction. Sure, it will necessitate a hell of a lot more coordination to keep things up and running in deep space, but — again, just my opinion — this could result in more fights and less running around all evening long without anything to show for it. I say that as a support ship pilot of course, so it’s my preference to see ships and shoot at them rather than watching the names come and go by bridges as fleets long-jump through regions.

Anyway, there’s a lot more in the article, so I encourage folks to give it a read through even if you’re not the type of EVE player to take part in alliance fights.


Fanfest Marches Forward

At first I thought: whoa, CCP announcing Fanfest early, what the hell? But CCP is ever-sneaky…

The next EVE Online Fanfest will be held on March 24 through March 26, 2011 at the Laugardalshöll Convention Center in Reykjavik, Iceland.

The change of dates will probably be well-received by most people, especially for those of us in the IT industry who now have an excuse to be out of the country during March Madness.

I guess now that we all have a year to plan our trips there’s no excuse for anyone, right? I’m curious how many folks are going to find a way out of this though. Really, it’s a blast, so I highly recommend people make an effort. You don’t even have to be some ultra-hardcore EVE zealot, Iceland’s a really cool place to visit.

Now even more so, since they’re totally smoking out Europe.


EVE Named 2009 Game of the Year


That’s right.  I mean, was there ever any doubt?  I mean lets look at the sad sacks we had as competition for the award this year:

  • Aion (you fly around with wings, for crying out loud)
  • Lord of the Rings Online (ok I suppose this one’s reasonable)
  • World of Warcraft (has anyone even heard of this one?)
  • Wizard 101 (couldn’t get the Harry Potter license, eh?)

I jest of course.  There’s some decent competition there, so how the hell did our humble EVE get past the legions of artards still fattening themselves up in Azeroth?  Quoth MMORPG.com’s Jon Wood:

Coming up with a Game of the Year winner this time around was a difficult task. In the end, it came down to factors like: game growth, originality, overall contributions to the industry, fun factor, population and technological advancement and more.

Booyah.  *fistbump*