Quizzing the head honcho of EVE Esports, a three-way debate on its future, and learning of the fearsome bogeyman who hunts down pro pilots.
EVE Online Community Devs on the Future of EVEsports
Our frequent readers may well remember a special piece we published in July. For the article, we interviewed the EVEsports world champion StarFleetCommander while we soared 40,000 feet above the Atlantic Ocean. Appropriate, eh? He spoke to us about the need for pre-fitted ships, making EVEsports accessible to outsiders, optimising fleet sizes, and enhancing the UI.
Now we're back with a follow-up by three pillars of the EVE community and the EVE Online esports scene: CCP Zelus (aka Elise Randolph, who steers the EVEsports ship), CCP Spider (who regularly refereed EVEsports tournaments), and CCP Swift (aka General Stargazer who has even flown into competitive battles almost as many times as StarFleetCommander including some against him).
Before we heard from Swift and Spider, we quizzed CCP Zelus (Aiden) about EVE Esports tournament formats and sizes:
I know I sound a bit sadistic, but you know when someone crashes a Lamborghini it triggers something in you...
Aiden, you're running the Alliance Tournament and the competitive play programs. Which tournament formats and sizes are you pursuing?
CCP Zelus (Aiden): It's worth distinguishing between our "official" tournaments, like the Fanfest Global Finals, and the player-run tournaments, like the recent 7v7 Anger Games. We loved the Anger Games; the effort, the design, and the intention is to continue with that exact premise. In the fortnight after it concluded, two other players independently reached out with their plans to run two more mini tournaments. These small tournaments, with teams of between 2v2 and 5v5, are a lot easier to handle simply due to the number of players involved.
So that boils down to logistics?
CCP Zelus (Aiden): Right. Aside from the players, you have the support staff, commentators, analysts, and more. It's so much easier with smaller tournaments. What we want to do is to continue to support those small player-led tournaments going forward. But that's not to dismiss the larger "official" events, like the Alliance Tournaments. We're always keeping them in mind.
What are your plans for those bigger 10v10 tournaments?
CCP Zelus (Aiden): Starting later this year, we're planning to return to regularly hosting the Alliance Tournaments. That means bringing back unique ships and keeping the lucrative rewards flowing. I'm currently putting together a tier system of tournament sizes and the support that we at CCP can give.
What support do you offer player-run tournaments?
CCP Zelus (Aiden): One of the biggest types of supports trialled during the Anger Games was the provision of signal boosting for the tournaments. So we actually ran proving ground events -- little tournaments running alongside the main broadcast. In addition, there were in-game billboards set up to advertise the tournaments to players. We'd like to start doing these with the bigger tournaments too. We want to add just as much tension and support to these bigger tournaments. We remain very much interested by it, excited by it, and supportive of it.
Now that you've read our EVEsports Q&A with CCP Zelus, here's a fun conversation between him, CCP Spider (Palli) and CCP Swift (Peter) on their optimism for EVE esports and EVE Online's greatest bogeyman whose sole obsession is hunting down tournament winners.
CCP Spider (Palli): You're sat down with three people for whom these tournaments, the CCP-led ones and fan-led ones, hold a special place in their hearts. In my ten years here, I think I've worked on six separate tournaments as a referee or facilitator of some kind. Take the tournament we had last November, I'm not working in that area anymore, but I just couldn't help but turn up. It remains at the top of all our minds -- we want to see what makes sense and how we can approach it in the future. We definitely have an open mind to it.
CCP Swift (Peter): When we brought back the Alliance Tournament last year, it was really a catalyst. Like a green light for the community to get excited about EVE again. We've been giving out more overpowered ships designed by CCP Aurora. Often at lunch, we go through and see how many of them have died.
CCP Spider (Palli): Now that there are so many more of them in the game, people feel free to be a bit more reckless with them. When there are only a few dozen of a ship in a game, people are terrified to undock them. But when there are a few hundred, people are like "Screw it! If I lose this one, surely someone will give me another one."
CCP Swift (Peter): And when everyone has this same mentality, people always go out with them and lose them in hilarious and unexpected ways. About a month before Fanfest, there was a month where people were losing a couple a week. It was so much fun to see these players lose their incredibly OP ships. I know I sound a bit sadistic, but you know when someone crashes a Lamborghini it triggers something in you.
CCP Spider (Palli): And some people can afford that, right?
CCP Zelus (Aiden): We received a lot of information from players during Fanfest about the desire for tournaments. We had a roundtable discussion where we had some excellent ideas from players. But on Peter's note, it's not uncommon to see small fleets escorting an Alliance Tournament ship. You occasionally even see a couple of these OP ships together. But one of the coolest things I saw post the Alliance Tournament was 10-15 Alliance Tournament ships going around and absolutely obliterating bunches of people. And you know, had someone taken out this group it would have been an epic, EPIC tale to tell.
CCP Spider (Palli): One of these ships alone is worth about three titans, and we're talking about frigates and cruisers.
CCP Swift (Peter): If they made one small misstep, they could have died in literally one shot. Funnily enough that fleet was led by the person you interviewed at 40,000ft, StarFleetCommander. That was him for sure, the winner of our Fanfest Global Finals. And there's at least one person out there who lives for that sort of assassination mission. EVE Online's one bogeyman, who goes by the name of Frederick Vonhole.
---Queue thunder and lightning---
CCP Swift (Peter): All he does in-game is hunt these rare ships. That's his life. And you don't know where he's going to come from. He'll set the most elaborate traps in the world. He'll create a character four years in the past just in anticipation of trapping you. He'll infiltrate your group and pretend to be your friend or enemy. You'll go to attack him one day, thinking you know who he is. And then he'll be like "Apologies, my friend. I'm Frederick Vonhole, and you sir, have just been Vonhole'd." In this fleet that Aiden mentioned, they actually convinced Vonhole to fly with him so they knew they wouldn't die. They flew with the bogeyman and knew that they were safe. A mutually assured destruction kind of deal. He can't kill us because we'll kill him and he wouldn't want to do that. The EVE friendship machine in action
Well, they say keep your friends close and your enemies closer. CCP Zelus and CCP Swift also took over our EVE Online interviews in July and August. So, if you need more of them in your life, you know where to go. All the images used in this article are the property of the awesome CCP Aperture (Razorien) - check out his Flickr album!".