We’re back with CCP Brand Director Sæmundur Hermannsson and CCP Creative Director Bergur Finnbogason for the final EVE Online interview of the year. In this edition we’ll be discussing the grand plans to hand over ultimate power from CCP to the player-base as well as the fascinating revelations discovered by researchers studying EVE. What’s more, we asked the directors to tell us a super geeky EVE Online secret, and their answer did not disappoint.
Alex: Alright, here’s one for you. Can you tell me something really, really nerdy about EVE that nobody else knows?
Bergur: Something super nerdy about EVE? Where to begin!?
Sæmi: I’ll start. What players will only just be learning is how much of a significant milestone our new Skill Plans and Skill Training systems are. They’re milestones for us internally and they’re milestones for the technology. Our tech teams have been trying to put as many of EVE’s technological needs as possible through microservices and away from the monolith, so that engine can just be a game engine. With Skill Plans, for the first time we’ve been able to do this end-to-end so that they can just be turned off and turned on without the need for TQs.
Bergur: We’ve already told you about Michel Mayor out-nerding the whole of Iceland, right? And geeking out over our planet rendering?
Alex: Afraid so, it is a brilliant story though.
Bergur: Right come back to me, you’ll get your geek fact.
Sæmi: Wow, you’ve made Bergur shut up.
Alex: This next question might be best suited for your economics knowledge anyway, Sæmi. Could you share an example in layman’s terms of any real-life lessons that economists or sociologists have taken from studying EVE?
Sæmi: There have been a whole bunch, and I’m not well versed in all of them, but there was a particularly memorable one about the study of ethnicities and the type of character that was created and played in-game.
Bergur: Yeah, that was interesting. So, Germans display a lot of classical “German traits” in-game. The same for Russians, and so on. Those traits really shine through in-game. Where things get really interesting is when people choose to play as other characters. So, we have a majority male playerbase, however the split of male to female characters is almost 50/50. And what we see there is that the male players that play as female characters adopt what for lack of a better term could be described as “feminine traits”. So that’s something that contradicts this assumption of Germans bringing German traits into the game.
Sæmi: And in terms of the economics, what I’ve been the most fascinated by is just how patently the general laws of economics are proven by EVE. There’s these 10 Principles of Economics that every economist agrees upon, and you just see them proven in EVE’s economy every single day. Take supply and demand, economics 101, whenever there is resource scarcity for specific things, people start speculating then it normalizes, then there’s supply drops, price rises, all of it – you just see it in full effect in EVE. It’s nice to see my time spent at university studying economics wasn’t fully wasted.
Alex: Try having a philosophy degree.
Sæmi: It is fascinating though, prices rising and falling with deflation, faucet sinks, it’s just economics at its purest.
Bergur: We see these pump and dump activities a lot where we see people trying to take control of certain sectors of the market. There are markets in every system and station, but there are also key markets with some rare commodities. And there are these market super niches that are controlled by very few. For economy nerds, this is a lot of fun. I mean there have been times where I’ve accidentally bought everything of something in Jita inadvertently making myself a market controller. But I got a little slap on the wrist for that and naturally this was many years ago. Very many years ago.
Alex: In previous interviews you’ve described yourselves as the passive janitors of New Eden, but of course you do have plenty of strings at your disposal to pull at and affect the economy. I wondered how easy it would be for you to stimulate war through economic levers and indeed how much that power scares you?
Bergur: We could do a lot of damage. And with great power comes great responsibility. My ultimate goal is always working out how we can we give more of this power to the players though. The better tools we have, the more autonomy we can give them. What we’ve been doing over the last two years with the resource squeeze that’s been happening is building tools and capability that grant us more oversight and understanding. So yes, in some ways you could say we have more control over the economy but ultimately it will result in a much better game with a more functional and healthy economy for all. Now we fully understand the amount of ISK [Interstellar Kredits], the velocity of ISK, how much ISK we’re fauceting into the game, etc. We can now control these levers with more certainty knowing that we’re not flooding the market or completely depleting it. So yes, we have an incredible power but we’re always working towards a moment where we can give away even more control.
Alex: And what would that moment look like?
Bergur: Well, imagine how incredible it would be if it was a player choice that the four great empires of EVE go to war? Like how f’ing amazing would that be?! Sure, it’s a cool story to say “Amarr has declared intergalactic war with Caldari”. But what about if it was like “Hey did you hear about Alex Sinclair Lack, he double stabbed the emperor in the back and now Sæmi’s reinforcing the Caldari front in act of righteous vengeance.”
Alex: Come at me, Sæmi!
Bergur: It would just be so cool if these very human actions made massive, massive empires go to war. Because these are the sorts of things that have caused the biggest wars the world has ever seen. These very human, emotionally driven, and personal moments spark the flames that spread to dozens of nations. Take the Arab Spring, a single protestor in Algeria had such an effect. Or the murder of Franz Ferdinand triggering World War 1.
Alex: Helen and Paris…
Bergur: Exactly. Very often you can pinpoint the exact moment these things trigger. And I think those stories are so much more exciting than the divine CCP overlords dictating the direction of the world. But how far away that moment is, if it’s a few years or ten times as many, I have no idea. But that’s the aspiration that we all share in. Giving the game, the universe, and the players more autonomy. We’ve realised the way to do that is putting in the legwork now, building these strong foundations and really defining the playground. So yeah, that’s my view on the divinity of CCP.
Sæmi: And what I’ll add to that is that New Eden is a dynamic living universe and becoming more so. We’ve invested a lot in reports on capital activity, the rogue events, scope reporting, etc. This is all evidence of our commitment to the long term; to setting EVE up for a third decade and beyond. We mean it when we say we want EVE to live forever. But we’re of the philosophy of trying things out and learning from them as opposed to overthinking and then stagnating.
Bergur: I have my super nerdy fact!
Alex: Bring it on.
Bergur: At any given time in EVE Online we have multiple narratives ongoing; multiple characters with multiple storylines co-progressing. We have storylines that we’ve seeded many, many years ago; we have other storylines that we started but are now player-led and completely out of our control; and we have storylines that players started and then we picked up. And indeed…we have a few storylines that have been in the game, not from Day One but from pretty damn close, that have never been picked up by anyone. We have been somewhat actively progressing them and writing about them and adding new elements that no one has ever noticed or commented on!
Alex: I don’t suppose you’re going to give me a clue?
Bergur: Oh no no no! Absolutely not. But this is definitely going to get everyone to go back and watch the film.
Alex: Which one?
Bergur: I’ve said too much.
Alex: Well, that’s a scoop alright. I bet there’s an odd satisfaction to that, much the same as when you’re a dungeon master and your players are yet to pick up on a key factor that’ll come back to haunt them.
Bergur: A devilish satisfaction…there sure is.
If you enjoyed this EVE Online interview, be sure to check out our full catalogue from 2021. It’s full of EVE insights, geekery, and wisdom. Alternatively check out this additional piece on the EVE directors' opinion of integrating crypto and real money trading.
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