I think a lot of intelligent folks are going to write about citadels, capitals, and the tantalizing new space CCP Seagull has teased, so I’ll focus on two other things: Immersion and Growing Eve.
I play a lot of games, from silly throw-away titles to super-nerd-fest time sinks like Dwarf Fortress or Aurora. One thing that really drives my ability to get lost in a game is how far you can get lost in the setting, and the simple joy of being in the world the game offers. A few years ago, I would have said Eve was doing very well at providing an immersive space. But times change.
Games like Elite: Dangerous are out, Star Citizen may be coming, and a host of smaller games like Rebel Galaxy have been trickling out. The spaceship genre is no longer just Eve. Eve is no longer providing a compelling, butt-in-chair experience, at least af far as piloting ships goes. CCP has a real opportunity to reinvigorate the game by looking to some of the ones I just mentioned. Those three games all put you in the captain’s chair in a much more visceral way than Eve. Two things CCP has already done make me hopeful that they will see the course of not letting competitors pass them by.
That course is giving us the tools, if we choose, to really inhabit our ships. Valkyrie is laying the groundwork for how CCP can make a first-person space game look and feel good. The rapid rate of new camera and ship controls hint at the capabilities CCP has to translate some of that VR feeling to the monitor. The hint of getting up close and personal with our ships is there. Imagine, as a new player (or an older one), undocking for the first time and seeing the game from your ship’s POV. Imagine using a controller or HOTAS to fly around that first station. Imagine weaving through a fleet fight or densely packed Level 4 mission.
Eve will never be a flight sim and I’m not asking for that. With a bit of work on the controls and some more tweaking of those cameras, Eve should be able to recapture some of the wonderful spectacle of space for new and old players alike. From carriers to frigates, there is a possibility for layers of presentation that show space combat from the grand level down to hitting barrel rolls as you maneuver for a kill. Unlock that vertical cameras axis and give me roll controls, CCP!
Players and Events
Eve’s greatest asset is players. Many of these players are tremendously creative, both in game and out. I would love to CCP embrace this creativity to enhance the marketing for the game both on the CCP side and the player side.
We know big events make waves in the gaming media and bring players into the game. By using player events and manufacturing more live events that foster player interactions (blowing each other up), CCP could create more marketing material that focuses on both the game and the players to show how much being an Eve player can mean in the game.
Up until now, live events have largely been either very niche (Alliance Tournament) or very time-limited (almost the RP related events). A team dedicated to running events in multiple locations (in Eve) or across multipe timezones might help foster the conditions for players to interact (read: fight) beyond the scope of the event. Multiple smaller simultaneous events would perhaps curtail some of the blob and metagaming problems seen in single location events. Expanding outside EU TZ events would help draw in players in other markets. I know as a US player, live events have largely been things I don’t get to partake in.
In an ideal Eve, lots of small events could act as flashpoints to bring players together, lure players across self-imposed territories (LS/HS/NS), and distribute those locations and events to help cushion against one bloc dismantling the fun. A dev run FW fleet for each side of the conflict, multiple small Drifter incursions, more interesting Sansha attacks or small events to flesh out the recent holiday events are all ways CCP could invigorate the game, get people interacting, and build some awesome media to spread around the web.
From the player side, CCP needs to allow players venues to meaningfully help CCP market the game. Multiple artists, writers, and software developers all create amazing things for and about Eve. Recent challenges and disappointments with some high profile (among the existing community) projects only highlight the negatives. Smaller groups and individuals are literally begging to help CCP create media and materials.
In the last few months, I have seen high quality ship models, art prints, paintings, and apparel. The problem is I can’t actually, legally, pay CCP or the artists for these items. These works should be something CCP embraces and monitizes. Give our fellow players a legitimate way to make license agreements, get on merchandising sites, and use this passion to promote awareness of the game. Letting Eve’s artists actually participate in the process would also help drive their enthusiasm for the product. CCP, harness the passion of the community. There will be bumps on the way, but shutting off all fans because of a few is losing sight of the big picture, and risks alienating some of the most passionate people in the game.