I see you reading that headline and furiously typing away, “Why would EVE players be angry about new content?” Well, that’s because a pretty major change has been buried into the patch that a lot of EVE Online veterans are concerned about, especially based on past behavior by developer CCP.
The big focus with Invasion was on making the most obtuse space MMO more accessible, especially to new players. There are two big areas that CCP targeted with this update to accomplish the latest step in their long-term plan of bringing in and retaining new players. One area was war declarations. Wars in EVE are complex, and thanks to UI headaches and oversights, wars are often equally irritating to manage in-game. Invasion sought to simplify things be refining the process of declaring wars, as well as as what was required to maintain said wars.
That’s all well and good, but it’s not the thing that players are upset about. No, that would be the new version of The Agency. The Agency is a newer tool in EVE Online that’s been built as the representation of the vaunted “New Player Experience”. The Agency is in essence a fancy checklist that give players a set of goal and helps them track progress, which is good. The Agency also gives noobies helpful information gathering tools to do things like find new missions, track combat encounters, handle information on their overview, and so much more. It’s this new iteration that introduced a pretty major change to EVE Online that many players don’t like.
Previously in EVE, if you wanted to, as an example, go into Wormhole space, you would have to find a wormhole. This process of using your ship scanners in consort with a special set of Probes and a special Launcher was an integral part of locating a variety of PvE content (called Anomalies) in the game. There was also built-in PvP elements as hunters would often lie in wait and entrap an unwary pilot who recklessly warped to a site they just scanned down.
With Invasion though, The Agency now simply hands you a list of all the possible Anomalies in a system. This completely eliminated scanning as it exists. This is because you no longer have to have scouts out looking for anomalies, they just pop up in the Agency when they spawn. Players still have to scan them down to know what kind of Anom it is, but it’s still a reviled change, and it has a lot of players concerned for two main reasons.
- The combination of this change combined with instant feedback of ESI system in-game means information is too readily available for some players. A potential invasion or attack vector can now be much more easily locked down by a group controlling a system, leading to less PvP. This is itself a manifestation of the N+1 problem that has plagued EVE for years.
- CCP has assured players this will make changes, despite as one player put it, “I’m amazed they’re still unironically telling us “Don’t worry we’ll iterate on it” despite their 15 year track record of never iterating on anything.”
There are genuinely good changes, like activating the Agency right away for new players and combining it with the new Pointer Tool to give noobies clear instructions. And as a PI nerd, integrating industry aspects directly into the Agency is a nice way of teaching new players what they can produce, making it easier to make ISK.
So what does all this mean? That’s harder to say. A growing number of long time fans have cited the loss of existing play styles from the game entirely. Solo PvP being squashed in favor of large fleet battles. Solo or small-gang industry being much less effective to the industrial output of major alliances. There are so many more manifestations of the group-focused mentality that CCP uses to develop EVE, which is most often shortened to the “N+1” problem. This is in essence the idea that any problem can be overcome with sufficient numbers.
And while it’s undeniable that the focus for CCP has been encouraging this ideal to try and foster large-scale wars to help bolster marketing efforts, the effect is much more debatable. CCP wants to recruit a more casual player base to sustain the game. But only CCP can see what their long-term gain or loss in players is in detail, although the overall picture is not good, as peak concurrent users in 2018 was far below what is was even just two years ago. Although since the game has had declining player numbers even before that spike, it’s harder to say what the future might hold.
Source: CCP Dev Blogs