I believe in you Greyscale I really do

Let’s be honest, since it’s just you and I: don’t you just love these days? The CSM in an uproar; every forum with the most tangentional relationship to Eve stuffed to overflowing with google-translated petitions and rageposts and quitposts; all the Sturm und Drang that disappeared when CCP got their fingers burned over Walking in Stations and vowed never to change anything about the game ever again. It might all be as tense as a western journalist in rural Syria but at least it is interesting.

First, let me say that I don’t think that the changes that CCP have announced in their latest dev blog are bad in themselves. As perhaps the most visible proponent of a more fractured, regional Eve I was enthusiastically in agreement with Manny’s original suggestions to heavily nerf force projection. I certainly applaud the direction in which CCP are moving with this first draft of their changes: you can’t make wars smaller and more disparate if everyone can get to every fight in six minutes of time dilation in the target system. I want the people fighting in Fountain to be different to the ones fighting in Vale.

So, unlike some in senior nullsec leadership positions, I am not shrieking about the eldritch horrors and non-euclidean surfaces of this draft version of CCP’s changes. But I do think that, unaltered and implemented in isolation, they will have deeply chilling effects on both nullsec and on CCP’s profitability.

The CFC Will Profit Most (or suffer least)

In case anyone accuses me of opposing these changes due to self-interest, let me state that we’ve had several Goonswarm groups – Logistics, Corps Diplomatique, FCs – working on modelling the likely impact of these changes. The conclusion we have come to is that the biggest gainers in the game are the CFC. We might choose to seize a couple of additional locations, but we’re pretty confident that we can, if we choose, hold our existing empire. If hostiles haven’t yet spotted the reasons we become essentially unassailable then they may try to make a multi-pronged attack, but this will fail after a handful of easily-retrieved systems are taken.

These changes entrench the CFC at the expense of virtually everyone else. I do not view this as a good thing.

Wait did you not read the bit about carrots and sticks?

I know that both CCP and the CSM read my articles on making a more Balkanised, chaotic Eve.  When laying out my vision for an Eve of shattered empires I repeatedly stressed that the stick does not work. I hope that CCP are making these changes because they are implementing the sort of ideas I spoke about: changes to make far denser occupation of nullsec space possible, and which remove the need to travel far for profit or for fights. Indeed, for that sort of Eve to work, the ability to travel across half the galaxy at the drop of a hat must be removed.

But leaving Eve in its current form, with fights distant, logistics onerous and space incapable of supporting a dense population and bringing in these punitive measures in an optimistic attempt to force certain blocs to shatter is financial suicide. People will unsubscribe and the flow of new players will (for reasons I detail below) slow to a trickle.  I like Eve and I do not want these things to happen.

Even if CCP presses ahead with these changes – and with refinement I think that they should push on with almost all of them – then they should do so only when they remove the absolute need for player groups to spread out over large areas.  No need for me to go over my suggestions for that, yet again.

Why do you Hate New Players and Their Money, CCP?

The deathcloning change – making it possible only to set your medical clone to your current location – is the scorpion in the shoe of this change. I can see the reasoning behind this change. Let’s imagine that the scenario which has been attempted so often is repeated once more: Someone attacks the CFC in Fountain, someone else in Delve, someone in Pure Blind and a fourth attacker in Vale. Each of those four attackers is essentially isolated: you could very rarely ask your pilots to gate it from Fountain to Vale, but it would be a pain. But if people can deathclone around then the defenders in particular can have numerous office stations in each region to which their entire bloc can jump in minutes, while attackers will be scrabbling for enough offices for a dozen corps in NPC null.

So yes, the ability to deathclone around every day – or many times every day – should be stamped on.

But what about new members? Brave Newbies, Dreddit, Goonswarm, J4LP and others bring thousands of new people into the game each year. Thousands of subscriptions. We say this to new members:

  • Log into the game and DO THE BLOODY TUTORIAL
  • Apply to [corporation name]
  • Get accepted
  • Press accept to get into the corp
  • Set your clone to nullsec
  • Kill Yourself (in game!)
  • Get into fleets and have fun

It’s a bit prolonged and CCP should look at it some day but it works and we get newbies into the game.  Now in the new system, it will go like this:

  • Log into the game and DO THE BLOODY TUTORIAL
  • Apply to [corporation name]
  • Get accepted
  • Fly to a border system
  • Set your clone there
  • Press accept to get into the corp
  • Undock
  • You’re a newbie so get killed by campers since they know the nullsec entry system hundreds of BNI/Goonswarm/Whoever newbies are told to go through
  • Find yourself camped in the station again so log off
  • Log in the next day, undock and if you are lucky find that there are no campers on the gate
  • Warp to the nullsec gate, jump through
  • Get killed by a camp
  • Wake up in the station again, camped in a wardecced alliance in empire
  • If you want to play the game then drop corp but remember you cannot rejoin for a week due to wardecs
  • Go play Archeage Online

You might say lawl stupid newbies but new players are the health of the game. And this is no theoretical matter: I was preparing to kick off our annual newbie drive this week, but I simply cannot do so when we can see clearly that we will lose most of the new players before the month is out.

And if you think that that’s a minor detail then it’s no idle boast to say that between Dreddit, Goonwaffe, BNI and others we bring in many thousands of new players every year, who I strongly suspect have far better retention statistics than random individuals who mission in empire for a few weeks, alone and friendless, and who pass from the game unmourned and unknown.

I would strongly advise CCP to make deathcloning possible on a timer of, say, eight days with a skill that reduces this by a day per skill level. But don’t put your thumb in the end of your newbie hose, because you’re not going to survive long on your declining veteran base.

  • Diskutant

    You will find other methods to get the newbies into nul, and maybe some much more immersive ones: e.g. organize a Welcome-Convoy-Fleet every month or every two weeks that picks up all newbies who have completed the tutorials. Gather in high sec, and fly with them into nul, proetcting them from any gatecamps etc. I cannot think of many ways to make newbies feel more welcome than by such a “rite of passage”, actually. And a few days of missioning in high will hurt no-one. In fact, they will learn alot about ships, fitting, modules etc. in that time.

  • Grarr Dexx

    Such a big alliance and you can’t even spend ten or fifteen minutes with a couple of guys convoying the newbies to your great space? Pod jumping is the scourge of this fucking game and if they want to realistically increase the size of the universe, it has to go.

  • Endie

    Do you know how many newbies join BNI, for instance, every day? Sure, FCs will form a fleet to escort in new members at first but how many fleets will an alliance run a day to escort new members in? This is Malcanis’ Law in action in its purest form and CCP will be the people who suffer first (we’ll all suffer when their retention and income drop off a cliff).

    And how would someone who had just joined an alliance in Omist, say, or Paragon Soul, or Period Basis, get there? “Sorry guys we need a CTA today we have two newbies needing escorted to our space it’s only a sixty-jump round trip though so let’s get a good turnout. Remember we also have a new guy in the AUTZ needing collected in about nine hours so set your alarm clocks!”

  • Endie

    A welcome convoy every month?!? Have you any awareness of MMO design? You have minutes to work with. Look at the “ding” moments WoW scatters across the first hour of gameplay: those are intentional and aimed at retention. asking someone to wait for a day would lose most gamers. Only those immunised to dreary waiting by years of Eve would think that weeks are acceptable.

    How many new players will wait a month instead of getting to play in nullsec the day they join, as today? They will let their trials lapse after two weeks of lonely and bored skill training.

    And if you really think that three or four weeks of missioning in empire helps people have fun or learn about the game then I suggest you ask a CCP staffer about who stays subscribed for how long, and that you check lossmails on battleclinic for the elite skill fitting abilities that people pick up.

  • JohnCaffeine

    They could make it so deathcloning is only possible to your corporation’s HQ, and put a 7 day or so timer on HQ changes. You could give it a shared timer with jump clones as well, so death/jump cloning is only possible once per day.

  • Endie

    Yeah, the corporation HQ thing did occur to me, too. Unfortunately, at the moment you cannot move your corp HQ to a conquerable station (presumably so that you can’t have every CFC corp with a YAO office!), so there would be a tweak needed there in some way, but that’s just an implementation detail.

    The shared timer with jump clones is a very good idea.

  • Billy Hardcore

    ITs about damm time!

  • Two step

    CCP has already said they are looking at deathclone stuff

  • elnator

    Um… change it up:
    1) do the tutorial
    2) train infomorph
    3) go to lowsec
    4) join corp
    5) fly to rorqual, install jump clone
    6) Wait for rorq to return to null
    7) jump clone out

    It’s not that different and it doesn’t require death cloning. One rorq can support dozens of new players a day even with the new mechanic. Just have a few rorqual alts available to facilitate this and… problem solved.

  • Endie

    I told you he was someone I could believe in.

  • eeeaan

    Thank you for knowing the difference between a block and a bloc.

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  • Endie

    I like to think that I’m doing my bit in helping them to come up with a useful answer!

  • Endie

    You really think that putting extra blocks in the way of newbies is justifiable in a game design in 2014?

    Every obstacle you place between a player and fun ensures less trial accounts become subscriptions. The idea of making newbies train infomorph, and of arranging them into batches which then have to get into lowsec and work out how to make a clone bay work – something CCP has signally failed to do so far! – looks like you just plain hate Eve and want its source of subs to dry up.

  • Zlocho

    Deathclonning is bad eve for newbies. Make an escort for them, they will have much more fun than ever. I know my first trip was like that and i was hooked instantenously by the fleet mechanics and was so nervous passing trough LS and nullsec. Make some highsec trainning grounds till they wait for the convoy etc.

  • Endie

    Happily, CCP have announced this:

    ‘Planned new feature to address new player movement:

    For players less than thirty days old, once per player corporation joined, and
    For all players, once a year

    You may push a button in your corp interface (while a member of a player corp and docked) that:
    – Moves your medical clone to a station designated by your corporation, and
    – Automatically moves you to your medical clone

    Exact method of corporations designating target station still being ironed out, but it will involve at the very least being able to designate a default station for all corp members, and will likely be allowed for *any* station with a corp office, regardless of system sec status.

    This seems to us like it solves the “I want to recruit people to nullsec” concern, and also gives non-nullsec recruiters an easier way to get genuinely new players to the right location easily.’

  • elnator

    Oh I don’t disagree. I’m just saying you have alternatives to just not bringing newbies in. Keep in mind it takes barely any time at all to train infomorph to 1.

  • fuck CFC


  • Alex

    Takes like 2 weeks to train an intie. Boohoo

  • Helix

    Takes like 2 hours for a new player to decide that they’re not having fun and log out, never to return.

  • Christ Jesus

    Making a special exception to fix a specific problem instead of rethinking a bad idea? Doesn’t rub me the right way. What if a player who is 31 days old wants to join?

  • Bill Canning

    I agree. This feels like a hastily cobbled together bandaid to a flawed idea. Here’s an alternative: everyone gets a couple jump clones at the start of the game, one installed and one in your hangar. There are no medical clones at all, but instead one of your JCs is the active one. Then, allow jump clones to be shipped around like regular goods. Viola! Problem solved.

  • kidkoma

    “And, all players, once a year”

  • Endie

    I am quite certain that it is a hastily-cobbled-together bandaid. But it’ll just about hold things together until CCP reiterate and fix it properly in 2019 or so…

  • Endie

    Exactly. I am consistently baffled by the attitudes of such people: it’s either an inability to empathise with new players or some willingness to pull the game down around their ears rather than see BNI keep growing or something.

  • Why

    the only way to get more people to get into the game is to come up with a new strat, and so out with the old (veteran players) in with the new, its already started look whats happened to your precious capitals…feel the wall closing in and leave…

  • Alex


  • Alex

    Pod jump rather. When I was new nobody told me about jump freighter services or jump bridges. So my souped up probe somehow managed to go through 30 gates including that mean old E-C one. Several times. You cant go without inconveniences for 2 hours, then good luck going 2 seconds in eve.