Comic #182: Something to Do

Even if the stream is screwed for this weekend’s Alliance Tournament X finals, you will still have something to do with this convenient bingo card. Enjoy!

Lets hope that the good karma gained by CCP beating the shit out of the streaming server that failed last week will help keep things together for the finals, otherwise the forum moderators will be pulling overtime playing Whac-a-Mole with all the rant threads. But then what would EVE AT finals day be without its share of drama?


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.

Stopping Midstream

Comic #181: Stopping Midstream

It really sucks when something even the presenters were looking forward to seeing gets cut off like this due to technical issues. At this point it’s still unknown whether was due to issues at CCP’s end or their streamer’s, but history with Alliance Tournaments have shown there’s no perfect solution for presenting this kind of EVE content to the masses.

They have, however, nailed the timing aspect of ticking everyone off. :)

In CCP’s defense, a repeated broadcast of the Pandemic Legion vs. Kill It With Fire match was done just after five thousand people switched off the stream. Whether this was due to them just getting up to go do something else, rage at the outage, or the eardrum-raping dubstep mix broadcast just after the tournament switched off is anyone’s guess…


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.

See More:

Blog Banter 37: A Line Removed

Blog Banters have been going on for quite a while, and are currently being managed by Seismic Stan over at Freebooted.  For some reason I’ve not really participated in them. Hoping to change that, lets delve into the latest banter offering:

“EVE Online sits on the frontier of social gaming, providing an entertainment environment like no other. The vibrant society of interacting and conflicting communities, both within the EVE client and without, is the driving force behind EVE’s success. However, the anonymity of internet culture combined with a competitive gaming environment encourages in-game behaviour to spread beyond the confines of the sandbox. Where is the line?”

Frontiers are interesting things.  They are unexplored places where the promises new discoveries and riches are balanced against fear of the unknown, and the risks of walking a path that has never been traveled before.

There are those that would like you to think that EVE Online is a game, but it kind of isn’t.  Oh it may wear the guise of a game like some dude trying on his wife’s dresses while she’s out, but it’s more like a universe simulator than a game proper. For we who visit this universe by logging in, EVE presents a frontier to be explored and exploited, risked, and even feared.

The formula for EVE presents a compelling picture of this frontier for players, and in my opinion can be summarized by the following statement: “It’s a blank slate populated by people, using things that people make with materials people work hard to obtain, all presented in singleton form.”

What you do in-game matters to others. You cannot escape causality.

The fact that all of this is driven by people on the internet is where things start to get quite interesting.  No other game really has this special mix of in-game holyshits and out-of-game whatthefucks, and it’s not because of the impressive nebula textures or the impressive server architecture. It’s because ripping off an alliance hangar can pay off your credit card debt, and the things you say in public at an EVE event could land you smack in the middle of a trending Twitter topic.

Back to the original question “Where is the line?”, the answer is almost impossible to define. The most obvious would be “is what I’m about to do illegal?”, and debate whether the potential repercussions are worth taking that next step.

It’s probably more interesting to ask the question “Where did the line go?”, since it’s much easier to answer: CCP took the line, and buried it in gravel somewhere for three months.  Then, piece by rotting piece, they ate it with a chaser of Brennivín as a test of manliness.

They did this by purposefully designing a system which fosters and rewards those who play it fast and loose with regards to the morality of their actions.

Happen upon someone absent-mindedly autopiloting around with all their expensive stuff through lowsec? Relieving them of all that burden nets you a nice reward. The game itself reimburses this with a bunch of numbers that go up. Your wallet will have more ISK in it, your security status gets a bigger (though maybe negative) number, you have more stuff to use or sell, maybe the bounty on your head gets some love.

Then the system lovingly delivers a shiny new kill mail to your inbox. You post it to your killboard, so you can see how you and your friends fought together against the blight on the universe known as Relocating Stuff. It computes a nice big number telling you just how hard you kicked that player in the balls, and aggregates it all into your own personal stats pile.

The spirit of this type of event is present everywhere in and out EVE – the gates, the asteroid belts, the marketplace, the forums, the blogs, and the media. And in my opinion, the community dramabombs blow up with explosions more glorious than those of any ship. Why? Well, they inspire current and potential players to look at EVE in a new light, one which highlights how there really isn’t anything out there quite like this.

See More:

Alliance Touranment X

Alliance Tournament X Kicked Off

First blood was drawn this weekend in New Eden, as the tenth Alliance Tournament began with first round qualifier matches.

As is usually the case with these events, CCP is presenting everyone with a plethora of web and social options for staying informed on the outcomes of the matches.  In addition to the official site (linked below), you can follow the results and ongoing community discussion on Twitter, hashtag #at10eve.

If you’re interested in a match-by-match summary, the folks at Definitive eSports has put up recaps for both days from this weekend. They’re worth a read if you want to get caught up quickly. Those with much more time on their hands who may have missed all (or some) of the fights can catch the full match videos as they go up on CCP’s YouTube channel.

One of my biggest complaints about the tournaments of the past has been nicely handled this year, and that’s the “what the fuck is going on?” factor. Lets face it: not everyone’s an expert at EVE, and there are plenty of folks watching the tournament who haven’t touched the game. At minimum, having some sort of UI overlaid on the action that shows some metadata from both sides in real time should be a requirement, and finally we have that.

It’s more eSporty this way, which in my opinion at least, is a good thing. More interest in these tournaments means more likelihood CCP will continue to put on the show and support them as well as they have been. This year’s streaming has been flawless for me, and the quality is entirely serviceable.

So far the commentary’s been above average, and since this is the qualifiers I’m hoping for good things as the tournament progresses.


Do We Have an Accord?

This is coming a bit late now but in case you haven’t been following things, CCP met with the CSM members on June 30th to discuss the recent troubles surrounding the recent addition of the Noble Exchange to the game. You can catch up on the background on the post here with the totally-not-inflammatory-title How to Destroy the EVE Community, but for now lets look at the output of the recent meeting.

We’re treated to two very different statements, one from CCP and one from the CSM. First, the CCP statement:

Statement on behalf of CCP from Arnar Hrafn Gylfason, Senior Producer for EVE Online

Following the series of events surrounding the launch of Incarna, CCP invited the Council of Stellar Management (CSM) to an extraordinary meeting in Reykjavik to discuss and address a variety of topics ranging from ship spinning to performance to virtual goods strategies. The discussions were very productive and both parties came to an understanding and agreement on key topics. That meeting has now ended and a firm resolution reached by both parties.

CCP acknowledges that the reaction following the leaked internal communication could have been handled better. Good communication and trust between CCP and the EVE community has always been a fundamental priority for CCP and will continue to be so.

It is CCP‘s plan that the Noble Exchange (NeX store) will be used for the sale of vanity items only. There are no plans, and have been no plans, as per previous communication and CSM meetings, to introduce the sale of game breaking items or enhancements in the NeX store.

The investment of money in EVE should not give you an unfair advantage over the investment of time. The CSM, under NDA, has been presented with CCP‘s plans for continued evolution of the business model and agrees that nothing they saw breaks this principle. CCP has committed to sharing their plans with the CSM on this front on an ongoing basis.

CCP acknowledges that communication surrounding the launch of the virtual goods store should have been better. To address that, we will write up dev blogs that explain the pricing strategy of the NeX store and the price tiering system. We will also communicate that we intend to put the focus on further fleshing out the lower price range and give visual examples of upcoming items.

The CSM raised concerns with performance running multiple clients after the Incarna launch where the minimum hardware spec will only support one client logged in when in a station environment. CCP will work on creating a minimum hardware spec that supports multiple clients, but wants it to be clear that the current minimum specification aims at single client with low settings.

The CSM helped CCP understand the emotional connection players had with „ship spinning”. They vehemently demanded the return of the feature, which CCP committed to introduce in some form at a future date. Until that functionality is added back in, the option to load station environments will remain in the Settings menu.

We are very happy with the results of the meetings and appreciate the commitment to EVE the CSM members have shown by attending the meeting on short notice.

Arnar Hrafn Gylfason
Senior Producer of EVE Online

And then we have the statement from the CSM:

Statement on behalf of the Council of Stellar Management from The Mittani, Chairman of CSM 6

The CSM came to Reykjavik for this extraordinary summit to address the cloud of suspicion and fear which has descended upon CCP and the EVE community in the aftermath of the Incarna expansion and the various internal leaks.

The issues we have addressed and discussed with CCP are:

Captain’s Quarters: We discussed the hardware and lighting issues within the CQ and we were satisfied that they were being addressed. We were pleased when Torfi announced that the current “Disabled Incarna Door” will be replaced with an environment that will provide similar functionality and performance to the pre-Incarna Hangar, and this environment will be available until Incarna performance is similar to pre-Incarna performance. While the final details and timelines have not been worked out, ships will once again spin all over New Eden.

Noble Exchange Rollout Debacle: We were shocked and appalled to discover how badly the planning and implementation of the Noble Exchange was executed. Despite the fact that they did not have enough assets of the right types to do a proper rollout, they launched anyway. The CSM believes that if CCP had properly communicated the details of their vanity goods pricing strategy and had sufficient low-tier items available at launch, the controversy would have been greatly reduced. CCP will issue a dev blog in the near future explaining their vanity goods strategy and how it will be implemented in the Noble Exchange.

Game-affecting Virtual Goods: We are convinced that CCP has no plans to introduce any game-affecting virtual goods, only pure vanity items such as clothing and ship skins. We have been repeatedly assured that there are no plans for ‘gold ammo’, ships which have different statistics from existing common hulls, or any other feared ‘game destroying’ virtual goods or services. We have expressed our deep concern about potential grey areas that the introduction of virtual goods permits, and CCP has made a commitment to discuss any proposals that might fall into these grey areas in detail with CSM at the earliest possible stage.

The Fearless “Greed is Good?” Leak: We accept CCP’s position that Fearless is a deliberately controversial internal publication and does not represent the policy of CCP Management or of CCP Zulu, the Senior Producer of EVE Online, nor the direction of game design.

The Leaked Hilmar Global Email: We were appalled by the leaked Hilmar email and the atrocious and out-of-touch messaging it contained. We sympathize and agree with those players offended and disgusted by it.

Arnar (CCP Zulu)’s Angry Friday Blog: We were disappointed by the tone taken in Arnar’s Blog, but we understand that he was in a state of extreme agitation and reacting to the leaks coming from within his company, which he saw as a breach of trust. While we may disagree with some of his decisions, we are united in our support of Arnar as the Senior Producer, and were pleased with his followup Apology Blog. We hope that his statement today will begin to restore your trust in his leadership and vision.

We believe that the situation that has unfolded in the past week has been a perfect storm of CCP communication failures, poor planning and sheer bad luck. Most of these issues, when dealt with in isolation, were reasonably simple to discuss and resolve, but combined they transformed a series of errors into the most significant crisis the EVE community has yet experienced.

We hope that this meeting will be the first step in the restoration of trust between CCP and the EVE community, and we will keep the community informed as to CCP’s efforts in delivering on the commitments they have made to us and to you.

First off, I have to say that I’m entirely impressed with the current CSM. When the current group was announced it was easy to see that this CSM would be an effective one, and this kind of thing really shows that off. Their statement really is indicative of the feelings of the players that care even the tiniest bit about the game. In my opinion, this is what CSM is all about.

The CCP statement is a mixed bag for me. It’s a combination of “we think we get it now” type of stuff, mixed with a baffling lack of focus. I don’t know about the rest of you, but there are a hundred other things I’d rather like to see their development focus dedicated to resolving before even considering looking at ship spinning. Get a grip.

There is also a distinct lack of  attention paid to the elephant in the room: Hilmar’s e-mail. I’m just going to put it out there that no response to that in the CCP statement is unbelievably irresponsible. To be honest, I don’t think one can possibly ever undo that kind of thing anyway, but a response to it in some capacity would have been nice, rather than just a generic “derp, we suck at communicating” thing. Maybe a statement about the issue from the man himself is forthcoming, who knows.

In conclusion, I think these statements reflect that the emergency summit actually did manage to accomplish a lot. I think the point has been driven home to CCP that they need to connect more with players about these kinds of major changes to the game, although time will tell if we will see some actual beneficial changes to the way this interaction is carried out.

It should also show the players that their voice can count in times like these, and that this is totally unlike other games out there where your feedback will generally stop at the meatshield level (community forums and the people who moderate them). In no way do I intend to diminish the efforts of previous CSMs, but I have to really salute The Mittani and the rest of the current CSM with their ability to represent that feedback in an intelligent manner.

Click through to the dev blog to watch the video where the statement is discussed, and admire Mittens’ beard grooming skills.


Tone and Demeanor

The newest Dev Blog from CCP Zulu has some things to say about the recent events in EVE Online…

The tone and demeanor of my blog on Friday did not correctly portray my emotions towards the community and player base at large. I love and respect EVE and its community on a level that’s hard to really do justice in words. However I let my frustration take charge of me, fueled by emotions that had built up due to a breach of trust we at CCP have been experiencing over the past few days. I know that sounds ironic considering those are the exact same feelings you have been having towards CCP.

For that I am sorry.

Having cooled off a bit and taken a solemn look at the situation, I see it’s clear we need to strengthen the deep mutual trust and respect that’s been so unique and descriptive of our relationship. There are certain questions you want answered and there isn’t room for more error in our communication on those topics or our perception of the root causes.

Therefore we have asked the CSM to join us in Iceland for an extraordinary meeting June 30th and July 1st to discuss the events of past week, to help us define and address the real underlying concerns, and to assist us in defining and iterating on our virtual goods strategy.

The result of this meeting should be mutual agreement of how virtual goods and services will evolve in EVE. Other issues may be brought up and we urge you to contact the CSM with your comments and concerns so that they may be addressed at this session.

However, just to prove the point of the Fearless newsletter and give you a further understanding of what it is then there are no and never have been plans to sell “gold ammo” for Aurum. In Fearless people are arguing a point, which doesn’t even have to be their view, they are debating an issue. This is another example of how information out of context is no information at all.

Due to the volatility of the topic we want to refrain from any further comments on this matter until after meeting with the CSM.

Thank you for your patience,

Arnar Hrafn Gylfason

Senior Producer of EVE Online

You know what, lets try something different… lets word cloud this thing and see what we get.

Yep, that’s what I thought… words.  To be honest I don’t know if this says much other than there being a distinct focus on the future. If one were so inclined, one could whittle the whole blog down to “lets just forget about that stuff and move forward”. Honestly that might not be such a bad idea… if EVE Online was similar to World of Warcraft in its complexities.

But it’s not.

I have to tip the hat to Zulu for apologizing, and chasing after getting a CSM meeting going on such short notice. Based on comments I’ve seen around the interwebz, I think the CSM have the greater community’s needs in mind and can represent them effectively.

I am concerned about the openness of the meeting, and others have indicated this in forum posts about this. Non-disclosure agreements are frequently employed in situations where exposing strategic business directions could compromise that business. Sorry to say it folks, but this is obviously going to be one of those cases, so don’t expect a live webcast of the meetings to occur. I imagine we’ll get a somewhat informative statement from CCP about it, and some incredibly informative stuff from CSM.

We know there were no plans to do microtransactions in EVE before. That didn’t mean there wouldn’t be in the future, so the same applies to the “gold ammo” concept. The fact that the idea is prevalent enough in CCP to be discussed and not whacked with a mallet like a mole from upper management strikes me that we’re one or two design team reshufflings away from seeing gold ammo in EVE.

Four things are true:

  • CCP is a business
  • Microtransactions = $$$
  • Businesses <3 $$$
  • Players of other games have shown it’s a model that works well for companies that employ the concept.

I don’t expect the concept to go away anytime soon, but I would expect is for CCP to come back down to planet Earth for a few minutes and be made to understand that just because a shirt costs $20 in real life does not mean we should have to pay that for an e-shirt.


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
Subject: ccp ceo global msg sent today
Content-Transfer-Encoding: 7bit
Content-Type: text/plain; charset=.UTF-8.
Message-Id: <>

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.



Comic #180: Macromistake

Seriously, I’m really curious who came up with the pricing for the items in the new Noble Exchange. Not only are the players’ jaws on the floor about this, but gaming media is all over this.

Don’t get me wrong, I can see the value in microtransactions for the MMO industry. Other games are making a mint off of selling people items and services for a few bucks here and there, but they sure didn’t get buy-in from players by selling virtual monocles for $70. Incarna, and subsequent immersion-oriented expansions to do more with our now-bodied avatars, will do well with properly managed microtransaction content, but pricing like this shows that someone over there at CCP doesn’t quite get it.