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I focus almost exclusively on PvP, whether solo, small gang, or large bloc warfare. In the past, I've been a miner, mission runner, and faction warfare jockey. I'm particularly interested in helping high-sec players get into 0.0 combat.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Order 66

Let me share something about Eve content enablers that ties into the fleet warp changes that have me so worked up.

Science fiction is filled with the truly exceptional.  Whether it’s the Mageborn in Melanie Rawn’s series, or the original 100 in Red/Green/Blue Mars, or mutants in X-Men, or the leroni in Darkover.  Or the Starks in ASoIaF.  And pretty generally, the key purpose of a group of outstanding individuals like this is to die.

Watching Star Wars as a kid, I remember the anxiety I felt not knowing if the Jedi were going to go extinct entirely.  I was 18 when the prequel movies came out, and it wasn’t until I was 20 or 21 that I got to see the Jedi in action in Attack of the Clones (it pains me to even write that title, so bad…).

For, you see, the Jedi were truly skilled, capable of doing amazing things, with the ability to shape worlds.  They were the best that universe had to offer, and they were a group you could get behind.  In AotC and Revenge of the Sith, you got to see the Jedi in action, leading troops and accomplishing great things.  The Clone Wars cartoon series showed more of their abilities.  It made you really like the individual Jedi, even as you lost faith that the Jedi Order was worthy to be the defender of any society.

The details of the Clone Wars in the Star Wars universe really bothered me for a long time.  You basically had droids and clones fighting it out – two of the most worthless groups of people in the universe.  For me, I couldn’t care less about all the losses I saw on the screen.  Nothing unique and valuable was being lost.  Droids were walking pieces of garbage, and clones were grown from a vat for that very purpose, and had even been genetically modified to be mentally obedient.  Death was, to me, a preferable state to a tendency towards slavish obedience.  Besides, they could always grow more.

Then, you had the Jedi.  During AotC, when the Jedi were surrounded (come on… how did the Jedi get there if the clones hadn’t yet… and why would anyone trust the Jedi with running military strategy after that stupid battle “tactic”), even Jedi that fell struck me as a painful loss specifically because they had died fighting worthless machines.  Something precious was dying to a pile of metal.

And then you got to see Order 66, and the way that all of the Jedi’s success was turned upside down.  Almost as if the series was reconfirming that droids and clones were equally worthless, these completely replaceable clones were slaughtering thousands of these truly gifted, skilled, wise people.  As the scenes cut from one execution to another, the sense that a shining light was going out across the galaxy was palpable.  In that instant, all of the Jedi Order’s flaws faded to insignificance.  Lesser being slaughtered the truly great.

It achieved, for me, everything the directors and writers could have hoped.  They had successfully created a painful scene of greatness and worth being overcome by a tidal wave of meaninglessness.  And to me, it lived up to the sentiment Order 66 was meant to convey.  All I could think was that the loss of ten thousand clones was preferable to the loss of one Jedi.  The halo of effect from one Jedi was wider and spread further.

In the Eve world, I am not a Jedi.  I’m maybe a clone scout.  The Jedi are the FCs, logistics pilots, CEOs, diplomats, intelligence agents, scouts, combat probers, and POS fuelers.  The enablers and content creators are the Jedi.  And while the fleet warp changes aren’t Order 66, I wonder how long they’re going to keep dealing with frustrations and obstacles that make their jobs harder.  Some, surely, look on changes as a challenge to be overcome, but each person can only absorb so many of those “changes” before they start to question whether what they’re doing is fun anymore.

Every FC that leaves the game or stops creating content because the barriers are now unacceptably high is another fleet that doesn’t go out, and two fleets’ worth of content that is missing (incl. the fleet that would have otherwise engaged them).  If that happens enough, with enough FCs not running as many or any fleets, content dries up.

Some will be replaced, of course.  And that’s the key.  How many clones are available doesn’t matter; what matters is how many new content enablers we gain and who stay with it.  Are we net-gaining skill and activity levels, or net-losing?  That’s the only factor that we should keep in mind.

I don’t have the answer to that, but I do know that as content enablers go, so goes the player login count.  And I’m looking at that number very, very carefully.  Less than 19,000 on a Sunday night is a very scary number.

21 comments:

  1. Sooo.... FCs are real worthwhile people and the rest of us, ALL of the rest of us... are, in your opinion, worthless F1 button pushing clones??

    Uhh... man do you put WAYYY too much value into FCs... wayy too much. I don't know about you bro, but I aint just some damn worthless clone.

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    1. Not at all. But when players are the content, it's pretty clear that those who enable large numbers of other players cast a wider shadow and have a greater effect on the gameworld. The consequences of them leaving the game are greater than the consequences of an isolated player leaving.

      In Razor, I noticed the absence of three FCs (Imperian, Tiberu, and sevyn nine). They both went afk because of RL considerations, and when they did, content fell flat, horribly so. Dozens of players didn't have as much to do in-game. They and the skills they brought made certain types of content viable.

      I'd rather keep everyone in the game, and I don't want to lose anyone. But I especially don't want to leave content creators. The comparison isn't perfect, but it occurred to me as i was watching Clone Wars with my daughter.

      To say someone isn't as influential as another isn't to say they're worthless. Only that fewer players' in-game experience will suffer as a result.

      And as the value of having a single shard is having a huge number of interactions among players, losing those who enable exponential interactions is more damaging than losing those who enable multiplicative or linear interactions.

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    2. There’s another way to read CCP’s difficulty Tal. Given your example, CCP would be very wise to rely less on super leet content creators since, as you’re example shows, those super leet content creators often wander off for reasons outside the game and when that’s the case there’s nothing, absolutely nothing CCP can do about it. Disentangling space corp management mechanics (for example) won’t make squat difference to the new job, new spouse and new baby super leet content creators who discover it’s real life time they declare they’ve ‘won Eve’.

      The more you rely on a smaller set of very important customers, the less stable your business is.

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    3. Great point. How do we accomplish it?

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    4. Tal is correct in his assessment. Look what happens to corps, especially the small ones, when the content creators stop logging in? My current corp is dead right now because of it. Oh, people still log in, do PI, maybe a bit of solo, highsec stuff, then log out, but it's a far cry from what it was before.

      Unfortunately, there is nothing CCP can do to fix the problem. Unless they want to convert EvE into a totally different game.

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    5. Well you might promote decentralization and its hierarchical counterpoint delegation. You might decide that one way to get at that is by tweaking with fleet warp options to limit the effectiveness of maniacal multi-box FCing. You might even recognize that yes, such a change will prove troublesome for a particular type of content enabler but be unwilling to publicly state that you’re OK with that since maniacal multi-boxers aren’t exactly the customer base you’re looking for even if they bring a batch of complaint f1 clone monkeys with them since that customer base, as wonderful as they are, remain too unstable to invest in.

      If you’re clever, you might carefully consider whether your mechanism of choice creates unintended deleterious effects elsewhere (say wormholes) and if so put a some serious time into mitigating those effects.

      If you’re really clever, you might institute a release policy that allows delay should you decide that this decision isn’t ready for release. Alternately, you might release anyway having judged the matter too important to delay being aware that that same release schedule enables quick follow-up iteration if truly required.

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    6. Good suggestion, Dire. However, I'm of the opinion that a consumer doesn't have an obligation to give their faith to a company producing a product; the company has to earn that good faith and trust. That's why I'm concerned by the fact that some of these changes reflect a "take first, then perhaps give something back" approach. They take away fleet warp without giving anything to offset and move us to a better place. They create null-mechanics that vastly over-position destroying space castles over building anything. And nothing they've put out shows how they hope to balance that equation.

      I'd love to be able to believe in this future that encourages and enables tens of thousands of content generators instead of the thousands we have today. I don't see the evidence of it yet, though.

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  2. I am in a small pvp alliance.
    This fleet warp change is the death to us.
    We don't have more alts to put on it.
    We will be moving out of wh space before the change hits.
    All our fc's and scouts fleet like they got order 66 .

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    1. I suspect you're not the only one in WH space...

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    2. Anon 1:43, why not wait and give it a chance, first?

      We saw this before with the ice changes. Lots of w-space groups predicted it would now be impossible to keep towers running and left w-space in droves. For those of us that remained, it turned out to not be the apocalypse.

      I fleet in a very small corp and we're not talking about leaving.

      We're also not pvp, nor pve, nor indy. We live in w-space. That makes us all of those by default. These fleet warp changes are dumb, yes, but they aren't the harbinger of our destruction. We're going to stay and work around the changes.

      You should, too.

      I find it sad that fleet warp has people ready to leave w-space, but the new structures do not, for example. The new structures represent a far, far greater threat to being able to live in w-space than these fleet warp changes do. The main difference, as far as I can tell, is that structures are complicated and are being fed to us in dribs and drabs, while fleet warp has been given to us all at once. That, and the impression I get that, even as vital as POSes are to living in w-space, there's quite a lot of players who don't really know how they work, nor have given a lot of thought to the implications of the structure changes. But fleet warp, now that affects everyone right away, so fleet warp changes are bad but changing the very infrastructure that let's us remain in w-space, that's meh.

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    3. We are a strict pvp alliance, anyone mentioning pve gets no respons.
      The holidays are approaching and there will even be less targets to find in w-space.
      Add this change to the mix and thing are just going to get even more boring.
      And the structure changes worry me a lot also.
      The fact that you will not get loot from them, the fact that people will be able to get all their stuff back,... .
      It looks like you won't be able to kick over an other players sand castle.

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  3. You make some very valuable points Tal, drones are useless and our pixelated ships are too. I am not sure I share your sentiments 100% though.

    If Eve is a sandbox game, like it is touted, it is not the job of a few to create content for the others. That is just a great benefit for all of us in large corporations/alliances. It is great doing a POS bash or blop in Curse hoping and praying that PL doesn't drop on you as you do them with their outrageous number of supers, but it isn't the only reason I play either. It is up to me to make the game meaningful. If this game is based on the actions of a few to provide for the many then it is going to suffer until the many figure out they can also provide for themselves. (wait, did i just make a welfare reference, hmm oh well)

    Yes, the low numbers in US PT is alarming, but that can be due to variosu factors in and out of the game too. I have noticed them since I am US west coast I am used to low numbers. It freaks me out when I see large number when I log on at different times of the day. Gaining players in the US TZ means CCP needs to finds stuff to add in game (not buff or nerf but actually add to its complexity) for Americans to spend their money on it.With economic times in the US on the upswing, there is now competition for our money.

    As for the fleet changes, I really have little experience in them, but the only real life analogy I can make is to my time in the US Army during Desert Storm. Our unit commanders would brief us soldiers of what we were expected to do, when we would do it, and coordinate all the intricacies before we left. This happened from General Schwarzkopf on down. I could never see Gen. Schwarzkopf fleet warp us to our objectives. It was a massive coordination and communications game, at all levels. I see fleets in Eve in a very similar fashion. Yes some aspects where a fleet warp is nice, especially with an excitable FC is good and fleet comms are not very disciplined, but that is just part of the game.

    I am not sure the answer to any of this is given here, but jsut my thoughtws on stuff. I do appreciate the time you put into this and being a person that grew up on Episode IV through VI, i got to see the rise of the Jedi after their demise I tend to have more hope for what is in the future.

    Be well my friend.

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  4. …(if) players are the content, it's pretty clear that those who enable large numbers of other players cast a wider shadow and have a greater effect on the gameworld. The consequences of them leaving the game are greater than the consequences of an isolated player leaving.

    The more you rely on a smaller set of very important customers, the less stable your business is.

    Great point. How do we accomplish it?


    By not being so completely dependent on Player Created Content.

    Now I don’t mean EVE should stop being a player centric game or that it needs to become a Themepark… anyone who knows me at all will know I am dead set against that… but EVE needs ‘both’ forms of Content Creators… the one’s in game and the one’s out of game too… Player Content Creators and Developer Content Creators.

    We need balance. Balanced gameplay, balanced ships and mods, and balanced content. We need content for all those who want to play in groups, we need content for all those who want to play solo and we need both kinds of content for the vast bulk of those in-between players who play a bit-of-this and a bit-of-that.

    We need good Dev created content for solo and casual play and for those times when Player Content Creators change or leave due to RL, boredom or rage-quit.

    And yes, there are players who will not take part in Dev Content after tasting the Sweet Heady Nectar that is Player Content… and there aint nothing we can do about that.

    And, if I may... moving out of anywhere due to changes that have not even taken place yet is (1) premature and somewhat reactionary in the extreme and (2) immature and a bit ragey TBH.

    We aren't 'happy' with what we have heard so far, but what we hear and what drops on patch day can sometimes not be what you think they be... we are waiting to see what actually happens... and then we are going to work out how to do that thing we do anyway.

    As we see it, rage quitting is not a mature option... but we also feel each player is feel to choose his or her own way... =P

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  5. You can also enable more players to create content. Right now the "handful of content creators" method of organization is being touted as a feature, but it's actually pretty bad. Burnout and overload are not new risks for enablers, because they already do more work than fun, and there's always a timer ticking down on that. Always.

    The root of the problem is that there are a lot of people who don't know how to play the game. They expect to be told when to log in and where to go so they can anchor on FC, hit F1, and "participate" in huge battles. They can't play independently and they don't want to. They have no investment in the game. As I said on the official boards, they're basically ISBoxer implemented in wetware. When the FC finally, inevitably burns out, they'll stop logging in.

    It's not good for the game to have a few people making a job of it while most people simply don't care. The argument that changes like this put more and more of a burden on the enablers is just willfully ignoring the fact that the goal is to get more players involved and invested in the game. The whole point is to make the old model unsustainable, because it's hurting the game.

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    1. The argument about more players involved keep getting tossed around, but I frankly can't see how the fleet warp castration change anything on this front. Given that a FC won't roll probing alt or training into T3 cruiser already existing one, as advised by Kcolor in his article on TheMittani.com, how many players will get more involved and invested in the game after this change? How many probers or interceptor pilots for providing warp-ins a fleet needs? Two, three? Ok, maybe ten? So, let's say out of a fleet consist of 256 characters (is that a max?) about ten of them gonna be more involved in the game. Wow, such a great deal! This will definitely change fleet combat. All that at the cost of gameplay of hundreds if not thousands other players being made more tedious and slow.

      Nice trade - getting small number of pilots here and there being more involved in playing (we are still pretty sure, that these pilots won't be alts, right?), while showing middle finger to hundreds or maybe thousands. I'm with Anon at 1:43 here. Funk that, I had unsubscribed both my accounts today, because I'm fed up and that was the last bit.

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    2. Dersen, the root of the problem is not that players don't know how to play the game, it's that they aren't very GOOD at playing the game... and they never will be. And really good FCs are as rare as really good Managers in the private sector or really good Lieutenants in the military... how many of them have you known?

      Really good leadership is a quality that cannot be taught, just ask anyone who's been in the military, in war time, in actual combat. I haven't been, but I have been honored to know a few, and leadership, real leadership, is as rare as chicken lips, honorable whores and altruistic lawyers.

      People are, for the most part, followers... this is not a bad thing in and of itself. We are an irascible, ornery, opinionated and hard assed bunch we land dwelling apes... far better it is for us that the many prefer to follow the few. Imagine if you will the converse... ugly picture that. So we are what we are, and that leaves us here. The many needing the few to lead... and in a game, leading is an option, not a necessity or a calling... or a job.

      You can want all you want for more players to get 'involved and invested in the game'... but that will not increase the number of those who are willing and ale to lead.

      As they say, "Want in one hand, shit in the other..." but I strongly suggest you have a roll of paper towels handy first.

      No... we cannot any more create leaders in EVE than they can at VMI, West Point or Annapolis... we can but hope those who have the innate whatever-it-takes step up from time to time... The rest of the time? We need good Dev Content to keep us all content until the few do.

      That and moar self sufficient players... but they too are somewhat rare compared to the mouth breathing masses of true followers, though not as rare as leaders. I know whereof I speak... I am one.

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    3. I rather view FCs as centurions in the Roman army. A good general recognized that the centurions were the ones who kept the army in tip-top shape. The centurions knew how things REALLY worked, and were the ones on the ground making the general's policy happen.

      A good Roman general would pay his centurions very well. He'd mourn the loss of his centurions far more than the loss of his general soldiers and DEFINITELY more than the loss of his noble officers.

      FCs are much more skilled and vital to an alliance than you're giving them credit for. Look at Brave... lots of middle management and administrators that could all be eliminated without detriment. But if you lose one FC, you're whole alliance suffers.

      There's a reason PL was sniping good FCs from every alliance they could a year ago. And a reason why most of them have stayed in PL.

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    4. Centurions are Sergeants... Sergeants don't Lead, they are, by any definition, middle management. They are the guys who makes what the leader wants to happen, happen. They are the back bone of any army or armed force but they are not the strategists nor are they the planners... they are not the Guy In Charge, they are his good right hand.

      EVE FCs are Lieutenants and Captains (Tribunes) in small gang, they are Majors and Colonels (Legates) in Medium gangs and Generals (same) in Null's Great Wars... but they are not Sergeants.

      We are a small corp and we have one really good FC... and I know all about Sargent's cause we have one, one of the best... the guy who makes everything the FC needs to happen happen, on time and on budget. We call him, la Banque... =]

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  6. The problem is in a small alliance the content creators are most of the players and they are getting hit hard with this change.
    Especialy in wormhole space , scouts, Fc's, logi's are 50% of the player or more in the alliance.

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    1. Sorry Tal but here we go again...

      I am in a small corp and we... hell NO ONE has yet BEEN HIT HARD or in any manner otherwise with ANY Fleet Warp changes... they have not happened yet.

      Talk about jumping the gun FFS. Last time we fleeted up it worked as it always has and it will until the day the patch drops. THEN we will see what we will see... and only then.

      And then my little corp will work out how to adapt to this change because it is a level playing field... EVERYONE gets the same changes... me, you, everybody.

      Do I like what I've read so far? Nope. Is it exactly what is definitely GOING to happen, possibly... possibly not. So we will, as we have every time Chicken Anonymous has started with the running around and the the doom crying... we will wait, and we will see... and we will learn and we will adapt.

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    2. Only, fewer and fewer of us are adapting each time. Sunday night, logged-in count was 17,900.

      Tick, tick, tick.

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