A Completely Lateral Paradigm For Eve Online

Eve is an amazingly well-designed game, visually compelling, steadily expanding, extremely challenging.

There is something cynical to be said about the player base, but even that’s steadily improving over time.

Eve has a beautiful economy, comraderie and dynamic flow.

As far as I am concerned there is only one serious MMO, and that’s eve. 

Though… I am not good at playing eve, which is largely my ADHD. I started playing eve in 2006 and my ex wife said “most beautiful screensaver ever”. In almost 20 years of eve I never owned anything larger than a Batteship, and barely ever flew battleships in anger. 

I have however long observed a massive, systemic, potentially lethal problem  with eve, and that is a kind of ruthless attitude in the game designers, where the creators of the game have created a most remarkable game and they almost seem hostile to offer players a “holding hands” kind of experience of play (versus gaming).

New players therefore drop off en masse. Eve has a catastrophically low retention rate. Yes, Eve is unreasonably challenging to the vast majority of people out there.

I see three most relevant reasons…

1 – the game has a great distance from the individual character. You “play” a spaceship and “allegedly” there’s someone inside there.  So as a result most players that play the game approach Eve more of like a succession of spreadsheets. Characters rarely if ever individuate. As players progress in the game there is zero reason to change this – characters allegedly become distant moguls directing events from an almost abstract distance from meaningful socializing. At best you hear these people’s voices on some youtube channel. There is no growth of personhood as a character, and at most of times it is almost as the existing player and the game developers are actively hostile of this very idea. 

2.  There is little or no unique creative experience in Eve.  All I would ever do in Eve would  be done many times over my tens of thousands of people, over and over – sometimes in an almost sterile robotic manner over and over. It is very difficult to create anything lasting, leave your mark on the universe. In fact this is actively discouraged by claiming the game is about “kicking other people’s sandcastle over”. Other MMO’s are much better at least suggesting a sense of creativity, individuality and uniqueness. 

3. There is very little easy, casual, playful content in the game. The games that attract tens of millions of players to their respective games are games that do just that – allow people to play around with simple concepts. I have in the past argued many times that eve would attract not just thousands – but literally millions of players by adding a parallel cheap subscription top the game that exists completely parallel to the PewPew game infrastructure, which allows casual gamers to muck around playfully, aesthetically in the game – like playing with legos or farmville.
All this sound exceptionally frivolous at first glance – but with the current game a simpler game modality is simply not feasible. The current game is pathologically locked in to catering to ruthless, exclusive, overly complex. 
The current game engine and starter game is just too gigantic a hurdle for most gamers out there. I have long since advocated to create something exponentially more low hurdle where a completely more casual gamers can do their casual things without immediately having to swim with the sharks. Slander such experiences as “CareBear” for all you want, the end result will always be that eve will never live up to its full potential.

I am personally 100% certain that Eve could have a concurrency rate of actively involved (and subscription paying) players ten times the current if it offered gaming experiencs substantially more frivolous, casual and playful.

You hook in these new people and they will graduate into 25 euro a month paying players over time, instead of alienating the fuck of of them. 

I was discussing this dilemma with some friends casually over drinks and from their ideas I came up with a rather unique approach that would solve all this. The future of gaming is in my sincerest belief to combine above 1, 2 an d 3 into unique experiences that

(1) allow people to strongly express their identity as opposed to being soulless husks. These people get enough of that slaving away in their cubicle in everyday life;

(2) allow people to do things in this universe their regard as significantly more meaningful, personal, liberating, creative that merely moving around industrial processes and 1000 meter long spaceships. Eve sucks massively at this. Most people wouldn’t touch Eve with a ten foot pole because eve makes most people feel like shit. Eve can be an alienating, soul crushing experience. Many of my friends in everyday life looked at it, tried it, ragequit and can’t stop being negative about it even years later; and

(3) create a new parallel game inside eve whose actions are inside that universe, exist meaningfully, but do not contradict with it. So, my unifying ideas is to create a completelyu seperate game in eve that creates events that are real in the universe, do not massively disrupt the existing gameplay dynamics but meet all above criteria – onme that generates CCP revenues, does not alienate the existing player base (overly much) makes not just a few ten thousand people join up – but seduces millions of people.

Visualise the following… A group of players were invited by their GM to roll up characters in a game tool we for now label “Eve Stories”.  Eve stories is a distinctly unique client. In this client the activities of a character are simulated in significantly more detail. The character has stats reflective of being an actual bipedal human in the gigantic universe.

This individual character starts out somewhere in Highsec. The player establishes a unique bond with this character, but the character starts at a massively lower power level than the typical pod sociopath character of eve online.
There are different and smaller ships in this parallel game, but in this setting a Frigate should be ‘a pretty damn big ship’.

We introduce very fast, very low damage categories of ships we are more intimately familiar with from Cinema (Millenium Falcons, etc.) and other games – much more intimate vessels. These vessels would then exist in the eve universe and would interact fully with existing ships (and can be destroyed by existing players).
Venture into nulsec with these RP-vessels at a low level and you probably won’t survive.

In fact you represent the endeavours of these “Eve Stories” characters as being of an exponentially lower tier than current even characters.

These characters will eventually be completely able to turn into regular Eve Online characters (if they so desire – like turning to the dark side…) but intially they are far far removed from the proverbial Titans of the game.
Let’s say – on a Saturday night severel good friends log into the “Eve Stories” client, after having been invited by a GM. This GM has purchased the “Eve Stories” Game Mastering client. The Game master obtrains has access to a library of creative instruments to allow his players to create a significantly more granular modular set of adventures in the Eve Universe.
I’d go as far as have these players literally have their characters don space suits, do extravehicular exploration of planetary surfaces, moons,  derelict wrecks or stations.
It’s a should like D&D online, however the pursuits of respective GM’s and players exist seperated from the meta epic narratives of tyhe universe.
You start simple, using fairly predictable toolbox systems where the GM uses storyline lego bricks to create adventures and challenges.
Both the GM and the Players would literally level up at the same time – 

The trick is that the respective GM starts at level 1, just as his players. The GM creates a story to actively entertain his player base, and can create encounters, challenges, storylines, princesses to rescue,  starbases to sneak in, derelict wrecks on moons to explore.

Using D&D as a metaphor – these players start at level 1 doing level 1 stuff, which would be insignificant compared to even a beginning character rolled up in the regular eve client.

If you plot out game play from level 1-100 in “Eve Stories”, activities from level one to ten would involve stuff happening in one system with security level 10 or 9, at most. They would progress through levels only very gradually so they might hit level 50 only after a year of play.

For most these levels the exploits of the normal gaming world would only superficially intersect with the regular game. The old timers would occasionally mutter in extreme annoyance and disgust at the flickering signals in their systems scans, as in “oh fuck we have a bunch of story nerds roleplaying off planet 6, dammit” but it would be difficult to interfere with them, and vice versa. 

But eventually these two game paradigms would merge.

I can not easily envision 200 million skill point characters becoming enmeshed with the “eve stories” narrative universe but I can see the reverse happening.

“Eve Stories” characters hitting level 32 and the party finally saves up enough money to skill up to buy a literal Destroyer, venturing out into a terrifyingly dangerous Security Level 5 system to run a mission that’s set up by their Game Master. 

These characters would by virtue of roleplaying their characters acquire hundreds of skill points in “Eve Stories” skills and only every now and then one of these skills would have the familiar name such as “Frigate Skill” – and even that would be relatively special.
These characters smaller food print would be the point of it – create connection, individuality, meaning, a social outlet. 

But eventually “Eve Stories” character would and should have an impact on the meta game. These RP characters would impact the universe in ways unavailable to the regular characters, having access to new affordances, technologies, cyberware, hacking, contacts (andsoforth) that approach the game on a substantially more lateral level.

It’s literally a parellel track of character development where either has his or her own advantages and disadvantages.

To have an “Eve Stories” character hit level 100 (which should be a development path taking maybe 5 years) would allow that individual to have major impact on the game, being able to do things ordinary characters simply can not do.

So essentially if CCP (or a subsidiary) were to develop this game in something like 3 years, the Game Master console of the game would some 8 years from now yield the first small population of “Eve Story” unique level 90+ characters that could in theory be contracted to do dirty mercenary jobs unavailable to the basic game.
If I were rich IRL, and CCP would be open to such a completely left field aproach to the current game (which I doubt they would initially be) you’d get a very unique metric for player recruitment.

I’d invest in such a game, without a shadow of a doubt, and I expect to be much much more rich ten years from now as a result. Such endeavour would attract a lot of players – people who pay money to play the game, GM’s who pay money to run these games
Imagine a large alliance 8 years from now being frantic about tapping a unique mercenary pool with unique ships, unique skills, unique resources.
The “storyboys” can go places and things the existing players can’t, but they are also operating at a much more modest, granular level. These would be characters with legendary reputations, unique appearances.

You’d hear whispered stories of Alecynder The Red Death, who is well embedded in Serpentis territory, running a mercenary gang of 20 characters about level 50. All close friends.

Now imagine 5 years from now there being twice as many regular Eve Online player subscriptions – with average concurrency of pod pilots being online now numbering in the  tens of thousands as opposed to the current mere thousands – but we see a few million people playing stories, many of these people steadily graduating to the regular client – and generatying maybe revenues through both subscription models.
I don’t need to spell it out for you.

There is growing competition to Eve Online… You all know “those other games” out there, where your characters actually is a character as opposed to a huge number of database entries.

Where your character has unique relic level cybernetics, and a uniquely modified cruiser, and unique technology and skills and contacts with both pirates, factions in eve. Such a character might even be occasionally be doing work for the Triglavians. 

To design such a parallel narrative structure would be a major challenge, but CCP can contract this out easily.

CCP sets the design constraints for the GM engine.

Few years later you have a list for high level GM’s creating the best storylines and players would be literally paying these top tier storytellers to play with them.
Bear in mind that right now there are technological advances in the pipeline that are extremely dangerous for long term any reveue models for CCP. You only need some minor advances in Artificial Intelligence and you’ll see characters doing “a few extra hours of” missions or ratting every day.

How will CCP prove it is automated AI bots doing  all the busywork?  You can’t shield yourself as a game designer from that five years from now.  And that means you can have someone who a lot of RL money throwing cash at a few dozen completely AI-run characters, start his own vanity corporation, set up his own ego-gratification fleet – a fleet that tends to win most fleet engagements.

This would drive away players to other games. In other words, we are only months of sudden technological advancements in the real world removed from Eve Online being crippled, and CCP having no discernible answer to such a development.

Not unless you evolve the player base to be in sigificant degree dependant on personalization, emotional connectivity, human-driven creativity, identity, fun, adventure and exploration. 

CCP and Eve Online is massive real estate in terms of IP. You can dump a gigantic number of subscription paying people in there. Each station, each moon mining array, each triglavian structure, each pirate asteroid outpost – those are all massively under-utilitilized blank slates – Virgin territory for storytelling. 

Me, I am just increasingly sad about eve. I have a 100 million skill point character that is completely pointless in the greater universe of Eve. I am a nobody in Eve, as a player or as a character.

I am aging IRL. I can’t ever hope to catch up. I can’t even hope to afford to sink money on multiboxing several miners, let alone I have the focus or energy levels left for that.

And I don’t want to get myself a methamphetamine addiction to actually be able to experience something resembling meaning in the game.

I am just sad. Part of me loves eve, part of me feels mounting sadness. Eve is something slipping away from not just me faster and faster every day, it is slipping away from a lot of people. 

I would love CCP to realize the Strengths, Oportunities, Weaknesses and Threats for what they have on their hands.

Eve isn’t nothing they built up over 20+ years. If CCP play their cards right they can be literally be like Disney of Science Fiction 15 years from now – a billion dollar company.

But in order  to grow they have  to open up Eve Universe for a damn lot of new players – and that will need them  to get off their ass and start making significantly more broadly appealing content.

The regular players will, like always, moan and bitch and make a fuzz as these “changes” means that the endless mountain of game bugs don’t get solved, that there will be less updates, that THEY and they precious apple carts don’t get properly served. Nothing will ever change for these people – they are locked into an endless game of spreadsheets and egomaniacal power fantasies and thats’s perfectly fine. But that kind of Eve also becoming increasingly niche and esoteric.                                    

(I had ChatGPT summarize this)

Personally, I’ve struggled with playing Eve, largely due to my ADHD. Despite starting in 2006, I’ve never progressed beyond a Battleship and seldom engage in combat with them. Over the years, I’ve noticed a significant issue with Eve: a seeming lack of support for new players, leading to a troublingly low retention rate. This is partly due to the game’s complexity and its focus on spreadsheet-like gameplay rather than fostering individual character growth and social interaction.

Another issue is the lack of unique creative experiences in Eve. Activities often feel repetitive and sterile, discouraging players from leaving a lasting mark on the game world. Additionally, there’s a dearth of easy, casual content, which could attract a broader audience.

To address these issues, I propose creating a separate game within Eve, called “Eve Stories,” where players can engage in more detailed character interactions and storytelling. This parallel game would allow for a more granular and personalized experience, encouraging players to express their identity and engage in meaningful, creative activities. Over time, characters from “Eve Stories” could impact the main game, providing a unique narrative experience while maintaining gameplay integrity.

Implementing such a system would be challenging, but it could significantly broaden Eve’s appeal and ensure its longevity in the face of technological advancements and changing player preferences. It’s time for CCP to recognize the strengths and opportunities within their IP and take bold steps to evolve and grow the Eve Universe into something truly remarkable.

(I had ChatGPT summarize this again)

Eve stands as a testament to exceptional game design, captivating players with its stunning visuals, expansive universe, and formidable challenges. However, amidst its triumphs lies a persistent challenge: the game’s complex nature often alienates new players, resulting in a distressingly low retention rate. While Eve boasts a vibrant economy, fosters camaraderie among its players, and maintains a dynamic flow of events, there’s a palpable sense that it could achieve even greater heights with some fundamental adjustments.

My personal journey in Eve has been marked by both admiration and frustration. Despite immersing myself in its universe since 2006, I’ve struggled to progress beyond the confines of a Battleship, and my encounters with combat have been sporadic at best. It’s not for lack of desire or effort but rather a feeling of being overwhelmed by the game’s complexity, which seems exacerbated by my ADHD. Even my ex-wife once quipped that Eve served as the “most beautiful screensaver ever,” a wry commentary on its immersive visuals and my limited engagement with its gameplay.

One of the core issues I’ve observed over my years in Eve is a seeming indifference from the game designers toward nurturing new players. There’s a distinct lack of hand-holding, with the game often feeling like an insurmountable challenge rather than an inviting adventure. The result? A revolving door of new players who enter Eve only to quickly exit, deterred by its steep learning curve and daunting gameplay.

Another noteworthy concern is the absence of truly unique creative experiences within Eve. While the game offers a vast universe teeming with possibilities, the activities available often feel repetitive and sterile, lacking the depth and personalization that could leave a lasting impact. This dearth of creative outlets stifles player engagement and limits the potential for meaningful storytelling and world-building.

Furthermore, Eve lacks easy, casual content that could attract a broader audience. While other MMOs excel at providing accessible, playful experiences for players of all skill levels, Eve remains largely inaccessible to casual gamers. This represents a missed opportunity to expand Eve’s player base and tap into new markets.

To address these challenges, I propose a bold solution: the creation of a parallel game within Eve, dubbed “Eve Stories.” This separate entity would provide players with a more detailed and personalized experience, allowing them to immerse themselves in character-driven narratives and creative endeavors. By bridging the gap between gameplay and storytelling, Eve Stories would offer a compelling alternative for both new and veteran players alike.

Imagine a world where players could explore the depths of Eve’s universe not just as spaceship pilots but as flesh-and-blood characters with rich backstories and personal motivations. Through Eve Stories, players could embark on epic quests, forge alliances, and leave their mark on the universe in ways previously unimaginable. This parallel game would serve as a gateway to the broader Eve experience, enticing newcomers with its accessible gameplay and engaging narratives.

Of course, implementing such a system would be no small feat. It would require careful planning, extensive development, and a willingness to embrace innovation. However, the potential rewards are immense. By breathing new life into Eve and broadening its appeal, we can ensure its continued success for years to come.

In conclusion, Eve has the potential to be more than just a game—it could be a living, breathing universe where players can craft their own destinies and shape the course of history. With the right vision and execution, Eve Stories could herald a new era of storytelling and creativity, propelling Eve to even greater heights of success and cementing its place as a cornerstone of the gaming world.

(Explain how “Eve Stories” would operate with a GM, and how it would not conflict with the established game design equilibrium….)

“Eve Stories” would operate within the existing framework of Eve Online but with a dedicated team of Game Masters (GMs) overseeing and facilitating the narrative-driven experiences. Here’s how it could work without conflicting with the established game design equilibrium:

  1. Separate Instances: Eve Stories would exist as a parallel experience within the Eve Online universe, utilizing separate servers or instances to avoid interference with the main game. This separation ensures that players engaging in Eve Stories activities do not disrupt the gameplay experience of those focusing on traditional Eve Online activities like mining, trading, or PvP combat.

  2. Game Master Oversight: Each instance of Eve Stories would be overseen by a team of GMs who act as narrators, storytellers, and facilitators. These GMs would guide players through immersive narrative arcs, respond to player actions, and introduce dynamic events tailored to each player’s experience. This personalized attention ensures that players feel invested in the unfolding story and have a sense of agency within the game world.

  3. Narrative-driven Gameplay: Unlike traditional Eve Online gameplay, which focuses primarily on sandbox mechanics and player-driven interactions, Eve Stories would prioritize narrative-driven gameplay. Players would embark on quests, participate in scripted events, and interact with non-player characters (NPCs) to advance the storyline. These narrative arcs could be tailored to individual players or groups, offering a rich and immersive storytelling experience.

  4. Player Choice and Consequence: One of the key features of Eve Stories would be the emphasis on player choice and consequence. Players’ decisions and actions within the game world would have lasting repercussions, influencing the direction of the narrative and shaping the world around them. This dynamic storytelling approach ensures that each player’s experience is unique and meaningful.

  5. Integration with Eve Online: While Eve Stories would offer a distinct gameplay experience, it would also be integrated with Eve Online in meaningful ways. Players could transition seamlessly between the two experiences, with events in Eve Stories impacting the broader Eve Online universe and vice versa. This integration maintains continuity between the two experiences while allowing players to explore different aspects of the game world.

  6. Balancing Gameplay and Narrative: To ensure that Eve Stories does not disrupt the established game design equilibrium of Eve Online, careful consideration would be given to balancing gameplay and narrative elements. While Eve Stories would offer a rich storytelling experience, it would not overshadow the core gameplay pillars of Eve Online, such as exploration, combat, and economics. Instead, it would complement these elements, providing players with additional avenues for engagement within the game world.

Overall, Eve Stories would enhance the Eve Online experience by offering players a deeper, more immersive narrative-driven gameplay experience while maintaining continuity with the established game design equilibrium. Through careful integration, player choice, and dynamic storytelling, Eve Stories has the potential to enrich the Eve Online universe and appeal to a broader audience of players.

(Convince CCP that emerging field of AI could overnight damage the game to the point of becoming financially a money loser. )

I’m reaching out to highlight a critical consideration regarding the emerging field of artificial intelligence (AI) and its potential impact on Eve Online’s long-term financial viability. As you’re aware, AI technology is advancing at an exponential rate, and while it presents numerous opportunities for innovation and enhancement within the gaming industry, it also poses significant risks if left unaddressed.

Here are several points to consider:

  1. Automation Threat: AI advancements could lead to the widespread adoption of automated gameplay systems capable of performing repetitive tasks, such as mission running or resource gathering, with unprecedented efficiency. These AI-driven bots could flood the game environment, disrupting the economy, distorting player interactions, and devaluing in-game achievements.

  2. Unfair Advantage: Players or entities with access to sophisticated AI algorithms could gain an unfair advantage over those who rely solely on manual gameplay. This imbalance could erode player trust, diminish the competitive integrity of the game, and drive away both new and existing players seeking a level playing field.

  3. Revenue Impact: If left unchecked, the proliferation of AI-driven bots could undermine the perceived value of in-game assets and currencies, leading to a decline in player engagement, subscription rates, and microtransaction revenue. Players may become disillusioned with a game environment perceived as rigged or manipulated by automated systems.

  4. Security Concerns: AI-powered bots present significant security risks, including potential exploits, hacks, and vulnerabilities that could compromise the integrity of the game client, servers, or player accounts. These security breaches not only damage player confidence but also expose CCP to legal and regulatory scrutiny.

  5. Community Backlash: The presence of AI-driven bots could trigger a backlash within the Eve Online community, with players expressing frustration, outrage, and disillusionment over perceived unfairness and exploitation. Negative sentiment could spread rapidly through social media channels, tarnishing the game’s reputation and deterring potential new players.

In light of these concerns, I urge CCP to proactively address the threat posed by AI-driven automation within Eve Online. This may involve implementing robust detection and prevention mechanisms to identify and mitigate the use of AI bots, enhancing player reporting tools to empower the community to identify suspicious behavior, and adopting proactive measures to safeguard the game’s integrity and economic stability.

By acknowledging and confronting the risks associated with AI-driven automation, CCP can demonstrate its commitment to preserving the integrity, fairness, and longevity of Eve Online as a vibrant and thriving virtual universe. Failure to act decisively could result in significant financial losses, reputational damage, and irreparable harm to the game’s community and ecosystem.

Describe to me how “Eve Stories” could be seperated from the established game yet functionally and meaningfully inrterface at intervals without breaking the old game.

“Eve Stories” offers a unique and immersive storytelling experience within the vast universe of Eve Online. While distinct from the established game, it seamlessly interfaces at intervals without disrupting the core gameplay. Here’s how it operates:

  1. Separation through Client Integration: “Eve Stories” operates as a separate client, distinct from the main Eve Online client. This ensures a clear separation between the two experiences while allowing players to easily transition between them.

  2. Parallel Narratives: The narrative of “Eve Stories” exists in parallel to the main storyline of Eve Online. While events in “Eve Stories” may occasionally intersect with the main game universe, they do not initially alter its dynamics or progression.

  3. Game Master (GM) Control: A GM oversees the “Eve Stories” experience, creating and guiding unique storylines and adventures for players. The GM has access to a suite of creative tools to craft compelling narratives, challenges, and encounters that enrich the player experience. 

  4. Distinct Character Progression: Characters in “Eve Stories” start with unique attributes and abilities reflective of their role within the narrative. While players may eventually transition these characters into the main Eve Online universe, their progression within “Eve Stories” remains separate and does not impact the balance or progression of the main game.

  5. Limited Interaction with Main Game: Interactions between “Eve Stories” and the main Eve Online universe are carefully managed to prevent disruption. While players may occasionally encounter elements from the main game or vice versa, these interactions are limited in scope. Only higher level “Eve Stories” may eventually impact the game for the regular crowd. 

  6. Gradual Integration: As players progress in “Eve Stories,” they may unlock opportunities to interact more directly with the main game universe. This gradual integration allows for a sense of progression and continuity while maintaining the distinct identity of each experience.

  7. Community Engagement: “Eve Stories” fosters a vibrant community of storytellers and roleplayers who contribute to the ongoing narrative through player-driven events, collaborations, and creative initiatives. This community-driven aspect adds depth and richness to the storytelling experience.

  8. Flexibility and Adaptability: The design of “Eve Stories” allows for flexibility and adaptability in response to player feedback and evolving storytelling trends. The GM can introduce new story arcs, challenges, and features to keep the experience fresh and engaging over time.

By carefully managing the integration of “Eve Stories” with the established game universe, CCP can provide players with a diverse range of experiences that cater to different playstyles and preferences without compromising the integrity or balance of Eve Online.