In this highly personal EVE Online interview, the directors talk about the impact of criticism, drop hints to the new expansion, and discuss EVE Frontlines.
Frontlines | Criticism | Next Expansion - EVE Online Interviews
It's a new month, so that can only mean one thing. It's time for a new EVE Online interview with the custodians of New Eden -- Creative Director CCP Burger and Community Developer CCP Swift. This time, we've got a much more personal interview, where Bergur and Peter talk about what the community means to them and how they respond to harsher feedback. Still riding high from the success of Uprising, we'll also be delving into Frontlines and clues for the next expansion which is just over the horizon.
Have there been any epic player battles or feats in the last couple of months?
CCP Swift: Good question. There are a few players we keep an eye on every once in a while, as they habitually do cool stuff. There was a recent conflict that almost evolved into a big war but then it petered out with one side completely dominating the other. But we do have a new addition related to player accomplishments and battles -- Frontlines.
That doesn't happen with any other game.
CCP Swift: Frontlines tracks the progress of Faction Warfare, provides bragging rights, and shows who is top dog of the moment. It gives a new place for players to be immortalised, day-to-day and week-to-week.
CCP Burger: You can check out top kills, most victory points, and the real-time war status maps without ever having to log in. You can see if your sides winning or if you need to drop in to help them make a final push somewhere. You can click on individual systems to see who has the advantage, how much it's contested... that reminds me, I need to go log in and kill some of these goddamn Caldari pilots.
Your UI team has done a good job!
CCP Swift: Yeah, definitely. They took inspiration from a longstanding player-made map system called Dotlan which has been around for pretty much as long as EVE's been around. They just became the standard for layout and information. So when players saw Frontlines, they instantly adapted to it -- already understanding how the map was oriented, where the systems are, etc. It was second nature. It was cool to see them adapt because generally EVE players don't like changes to maps and UI.
Talking of players disliking changes, I have a personal question. I feel you could have record breaking player numbers and 10/10 reviews and there would still be calls of "EVE is dying." Do you take fan criticism to heart or just accept it as an inevitable consequence of custodianship of a game that inspires passion?
CCP Burger: It's an inevitable consequence of having a game that's important to people. Like you say, it shows the passion. It shows that it's a meaningful game -- one they're invested in partly because they've added value to it themselves. And so, you try not to take it to heart. I'm always the happiest when people are debating the game. You want the conversation to revolve around EVE Online -- to debate the good, the bad, and the ugly. That can be an indication that the community is in a healthy space. It's the second that they start talking about CCP that we've lost the conversation from what's really important.
CCP Burger: That said. Actually, just the other day CCP Convict dug up the first ever time someone said "EVE is dying." And guess when it was? In a forum post from July 2003 by a player named Madox. The game was about two months old. We've been calling it the Madox effect. Yet somehow, 20 years later, the game is still alive and kicking.
I wonder if they're still playing.
CCP Swift: Or maybe his kids have picked it up, and he'll be like "Oh, isn't that game dead?" For me, it is hard when people are critical of the game. I'm new to the gaming industry and I do like to immerse myself in these comments. One thing about EVE players though is that they've learnt if they're constructive in their feedback then CCP will come to the table and discuss it in a way that no other developers wouldn't be willing to do.
Can you give an example?
CCP Swift: In the last few weeks and months, Bergur and other high-ranking team members have been sitting down for informal chats with high-profile players, alliance leaders, and groups of all sizes. And they talk for hours, completely out of the blue, just like "Hey, how's it going? How do you feel about the game? I want you to know what our vision looks like, and how we feel the game's going too." That doesn't happen with any other game. So yeah, I think EVE players have figured this whole thing out -- if they bring up feedback healthily, the developers will take it to heart and take it on board.
And the feedback brought up less healthily?
CCP Swift: Well, a lot of the more "rage responses" come out of passion. And those people will usually cool down if it's really important to them. They'll come up with a new way to communicate it that we can actually work with. Which is very much a neat thing.
That reminds me of your Story of EVE: Humans of New Eden.
CCP Swift: I really do think it's unique to EVE. I'm sure some of your readers will be reading this thinking "Oh no, so-and-so does that too." But I've been playing games for as long as I can remember, and this is the only time I've ever seen this kind of interaction. Sorry if I'm going on a little diatribe here, but it's actually the reason I wanted to join CCP. I just thought it was such a cool way to interact with the community. I was like "Respect. I gotta be part of that."
CCP Burger: I'm really blushing, thank you. It's actually been super helpful. I mean we have the CSM [Council of Stellar Management], who are incredibly valuable to us. It's impossible for anyone to know the whole game. So being able to reach out to the community and having specialists like the CSM, who we can go to and dig into certain topics is invaluable. I guess it starts with us being honest about not knowing everything and needing deeper insights. But also, some of the stuff we've learnt, and some of the tools that players have built... oh my! It is incredible!
With your next expansion due in Q2, players don't have long to wait. Can I tempt you into sharing any hints as to what to expect?
CCP Burger: Poker face: engaged. One of the things we've learnt returning from Quarters to expansions is that we want to give our teams enough time to react. Rather than ping-ponging between features, there will definitely be a continuation of the work people saw in Uprising. But that's not to say we haven't been dropping other hints. For example, in regards to EverMarks and Heraldry; Corporations have been gathering EverMarks but don't have a way of spending it right now...
CCP Burger: And players have been noticing all sorts of activity in New Eden that may hint at the direction things are moving in. But there is always an element of surprise and delight that I promise you there will be plenty of.
We hope you enjoyed our EVE Online interview for the month. There is plenty of current news available in February's EVE interview on "Data Democratisation, Meta Dances, and Core EVE" In early April, Bergur and Peter will be back once more for a true nerd out on ChatGPT and the power of roleplay.