The first of 2023's EVE Online interviews is officially live... and as always, it's kicking.
Core EVE | Meta Dances | Data Democratisation - EVE Online Interviews
CCP Swift and CCP Burger make a triumphant return for the first of 2023's monthly EVE Online interviews. Riding high off the success of Uprising, the pair were in a positively celebratory mood. And with EVE hitting its stride as it goes into its third decade, it's hard to blame them.
Your player numbers are great right now and haven't tailed off as they typically do with MMO expansions. Is it safe to call Uprising a success story?
CCP Burger: It's mid-February, four months in, and we're seeing very healthy numbers. Daily active users are on the rise. I think we can call that a success. Frankly, I think it's outperformed our wildest dreams. It's struck a good balance of fixing the old and giving people new things to fall in love with. I think the key is that we've hit right at the core of the game. We're not just adding new things on top of the already complicated game, but we took a system that desperately needed love and attention and we dived in.
CCP Swift: All the changes they just feel like very EVE changes, you know? Sometimes, you play an expansion or a patch, and it reminds you of another game. Uprising's changes all feel "core EVE" -- I think players enjoyed that. Heck, even the more cynical players, of which we have our share, were like "Okay CCP, you did good this one time, but I'll be watching closely to see if you can do it again next time."
That little bit of chaos is always exciting!
CCP Swift: We flew out the CSM [The Council of Stellar Management -- EVE Online's democratically elected council of veteran player representatives] and they met up with the design and development teams. Their feedback was great, and it was especially satisfying to hear that they were still figuring out the best way to solve things. EVE players love to solve a problem, that's what makes balancing so hard -- they're masters at min-maxing. But they're currently still trying to work things out, it's still a moving target.
I remember you wondering in the pre-Uprising edition of our EVE Online interviews how long it would take players to solve the new "puzzles" of Faction Warfare. It sounds like you got the balance right.
CCP Swift: Right now, players are at one of my favourite stages -- debating the best strategy for these new problems. There are currently three groups adamant they have the perfect solution for Faction Warfare, and they're butting heads trying to determine who is right. Usually, that means a mystery fourth party will arrive declaring "Mwahaha we've been sitting on this the whole time, and now you'll have to play by our rules." That little bit of chaos is always exciting.
CCP Burger: The beauty is down to the human element in the puzzle, it becomes almost impossible to solve. The moment you bring in a new meta, the opposing side thinks of a countering angle that you've never thought of. You end up in this beautiful, beautiful dance. A meta dance. I love it.
Do you have any other events on the horizon before the next expansion?
CCP Swift: Usually around Valentines Day, we run an event wherein players have to go out and destroy some pirates who are having a particularly debaucherous party. We announced this year that won't be happening, and instead those pirates are waiting to see what's happened and players will experience a more narrative focused replacement event. Some keen-eyed players have already noticed our breadcrumbs, including a low-sec security system invaded during Uprising whose security status is starting to rise. We've mentioned some things in in-game news, and it's a lot of fun to see players who normally wouldn't engage in that sort of content now paying attention to the storylines and theory-crafting.
CCP Burger: We've also just announced that the Excel plugin feature is going into closed beta. We expected there would be interest, but it's been very dramatic. It's been almost to the level where we're being DDoS'd with applications. We had to close down the sign-ups! When we showed the CSM the plug-in as it stands today, they were lost for words. Just lots of "Hrrughhaaa...ohhrrhuoo" sounds.
I'm not sure how I'm going to write up that sound for publication.
CCP Burger: Really, though, it's amazing. We've learnt a lot from how we rolled out the Photon UI changes. We're letting people in with a bit of a velvet rope. We want fewer people to start with so that we can start with some of the bigger issues, then harden it with the community. It's a major opportunity for the democratization of data, and in New Eden, data is incredibly important. Right now, Corporations need a fair amount of infrastructure to build this stuff, and the startup costs are really high. We're hoping to lower the barrier of entry so everyone can use data to their advantage, and the playing field can be levelled a bit.
CCP Burger: Because players are already familiar with Excel's functionality, they're able to build crazy tools with it. Five ideas sprung up in the meeting, and once we left into the fresh air people's minds were racing even more as the possibilities began to click. It was "Oh my god this!" and "Oh my gosh that!" We're going to see some wild ideas come out of this.
Speaking of Photon UI, how's that progressing?
CCP Swift: It's now left beta, put in with last week's patch alongside some player suggestions. When we release our patch notes, we add a little handshake emoji if it came from a player suggestion, and that patch was just one giant handshake. Even our most ardent critics are astounded by how our UI team responds to feedback. They manage to make changes almost immediately. Players will bring something up, and the Photon guys will be like, "Oh yeah, that's already in. You can check it out in the test server, don't worry. You want that too? Cool, we can do that." It's even more exciting to see where it can take us.
What can you tell me about your latest PLEX for GOOD campaign for the victims of the Turkey-Syria earthquakes?
CCP Burger: It's very, very scary, the stories coming out of Turkey. It's heart-breaking. Being in Iceland, we live on an island of traumatic weather, volcanoes, and earthquakes, but of course nothing of this scale. It can be difficult to know what to do when you're so far away, and you want to help in any way possible. So PLEX for GOOD is one way we're trying.
CCP Swift: The community have been great about it. As soon as the news came out and started to settle in they were asking if we were going to be doing a PLEX for GOOD. When we announced it, their response was "Thanks for letting us do this." Ever since, they've been busy organizing all sorts of interesting charity drives. EVE players are known for being super cutthroat, but they're always quick to organise in-game charity drives and donations. You see players giving away their prized assets that they've been collecting for years, and donating PLEX for the cause. We have a lot of groups, big and small, just trying to make an impact. Not everyone has the ability to donate money outside of the game, so they're happy they can still contribute.
You can read about EVE Online's latest PLEX for GOOD campaign here. And if you're an EVE player, you can still donate your PLEX if you're fast. Stay tuned for the next edition of our EVE Online interviews at the beginning of March where Peter and Bergur will be discussing Frontlines, fan criticism, the next expansion, and much more.