The Future of EVE Online: CSM Summit Overview Part 1 – The Ten Year Legacy

As EVE Online approaches it's tenth anniversary, CCP consults with its elected player representatives, the Council of Stellar Management, at a summit held at CCP headquarters in Reykjavik, Iceland.
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CCP Games, the Iceland-based developers of EVE Online (and the upcoming PS3 shooter DUST 514), are renowned for the degree of their communication with their player community, even periodically flying several of their number out to Iceland to help shape EVE’s future.

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Conduits of Communication

There have been some communication mis-steps, but since 2008, this relationship has been further cemented by the Council of Stellar Management. This is a body of players who are elected by the general playerbase to represent their interests to CCP developers. During the course of their year-long term, the current CSM has visited CCP headquarters in Reykjavik on two occasions.

The minutes of the second meeting of the term, held in December 2012, were recently released and buried within its 113(!) pages are omens of EVE Online’s future. The document is significant as it very much represents a turning point in EVE’s history as it approaches the celebration of its tenth anniversary. Perhaps some what is planned for the second decade of internet spaceships can be divined from the minutes.

The massively multiplayer space-sim has enjoyed many years of relative good health in MMO terms, with a loyal player base and fairly consistent growth. But now it approaches the end of its first decade and has arguably just completed an eighteen-month journey along a path to redemption after a potentially catastrophic series of managerial blunders which precipitated “The Summer of Rage” in 2011. This low-point in EVE’s long history saw player riots in-game, mass unsubscriptions and ultimately a 20% layoff of CCP staff and some significant restructuring.

The Ten Year Legacy

Having recovered from years of haphazardly pursuing what were later deemed “Jesus Features” – grand concepts and new gameplay elements which often failed to meet expectations – the more recent expansions have seen CCP focus intently on steadying the ship, returning to the core values of brutal spaceship combat.

The three most recent free expansions; Crucible (Nov 2011), Inferno (Apr 2012) and Retribution (Dec 2012) have cumulatively been a success, with PvP activity reaching levels not seen since the Empyrean Age expansion in June 2008 and Peak Concurrent User numbers on the single-shard game server well in excess of 50,000 (the record is 63,170).

But increasingly, CCP find themselves fighting a war on multiple fronts. There is the ever-present challenge of untangling poorly-documented legacy code integrated deeply into EVE Online’s systems, in order to update ageing user interface elements and gameplay features. CCP have learned to their cost that they must work continually to appease their fanatical playerbase, but equally must hone their famously impenetrable rookie experience to attract new players.

The appeal of EVE Online’s sandbox universe is so broad that the player population is fragmented into numerous distinct playstyle groups, each with their own demands. As much as the recent iterations have greatly improved the health of EVE Online, it is clear that there is a hunger growing within the playerbase for more than just fixes and tweaks.

Next: Part 2 – The Devil is in the Details…





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Mat Westhorpe
Broken paramedic and coffee-drinking Englishman whose favourite dumb animal is an oxymoron. After over a decade of humping and dumping the fat and the dead, my lower spine did things normally reserved for Rubik's cubes, bringing my career as a medical clinician to an unexpectedly early end. Fortunately, my real passion is in writing and given that I'm now highly qualified in the art of sitting down, I have the time to pursue it. Having blogged about video games (well, mostly EVE Online) for years, I hope to channel my enjoyment of wordcraft and my hobby of gaming into one handy new career that doesn't involve other people's vomit.