You should all stop what you’re doing right now and read Neville Smit’s latest post about the silent half of Eve players who may never make it to Fanfest or speak too loudly in the community but who still play the game just like we do. This is a post about giving a little love to the non-PvPers. Pay attention to what he says; his point is a critical one.
Seriously. I’ll wait.
“But Tal, are you seriously suggesting CCP should focus some attention on PvE?”
Yes, yes, I am. And it’s absolutely critical for the PvP game you play that we not forget about these players.
For those of you who are either in love with the cadence of my prose or too lazy to click over (the latter of which is, I’m sure, MUCH higher than the former), Neville argues – rightly – that developing new content that appeals to entrepreneurs and solo players will hopefully encourage them to log in more, spend more time in space, and become victims (euphemistically referred to as “content”) for PvPers as a way to get the latter group on board with CCP spending time developing PvE content. That’s really only a small piece of his post, of course, but it’s one that touches on a good topic: a healthy PvE environment is good for PvPers.
There’s another obvious advantage I should get out of the way, as well; every PvPer needs to fund his/her PvP habit somehow, and that usually involves PvE. Myself, I run cosmic signatures in NPC null (and occasionally sov null when no one’s looking!) with both Talvorian and Valeria during down times. Without PvE, I wouldn’t be able to PvP.
But, both of those arguments have been mentioned so frequently that they no longer persuade PvPers to care about PvE. Frankly, we like repeatable, boring PvE. It provides a safe, predictable experience we can do on one character while alt-tabbed to the interesting PvP content. In our minds, we want PvE to be so boring that we need only look at it at predictable intervals when we need to re-cycle our missiles.
But we’d be wrong to want that for the whole game.
I can hear Turamarth and DireNecessity cheering from here at my slow descent into madness. But I assure you, I am quite sane.
After all… where do you think PvPers come from?
Sure, some players start off their careers as PvPers, but a greater number start off in Eve just like they would any other MMO – starting with the scripted, NPC content and working their way up the ladder. They’d start with missions, maybe, or mining, and slowly unpeel the layers of Eve. Maybe they’d start their own corporation of like-minded young players. Or maybe they’d find themselves drawn to logistics roles and be interested in managing capital production or POS management. Many will try PvP. Some few will find they have an aptitude at FCing.
Take a look at Dotlan today. Gentleman’s Club and RvB are closing. In the past couple months, Black Legion has fallen, as well. How many alliances and corporations have gone inactive or wallowed without a plan or purpose? These organizations aren’t collapsing because of leadership burnout. Leaders losing interest and leaving the game are momentary events, easily endured if you have players in the group who can take over. No, these organizations are failing because new leaders aren’t rising to the surface.
And, interestingly, many leaders of PvP corporations and alliances don’t do much PvP themselves. The Mittani famously doesn’t log into the game often at all. Yet through his actions, he enables PvP for literally thousands of players. SRP programs are probably one of the single most successful ways of encouraging PvP, yet they’re managed by organizers (to process the claims) and entrepeneurs and logisticians (to mine moons and move the goods). They may PvP once a month.
The history of Eve is marked by leaders, enablers, and organizers coming and going. The individuals change, but the functions remain.
Only, recently, those advanced roles aren’t being filled by new players, because new players aren’t being cultivated by starting with baby steps and increasing their engagement and involvement in the game. So, you get alliances and corporations failing left and right, as we’ve had.
Casuals evolve into vested players. Vested players become engaged players. Engaged players become enablers. Enablers become leaders. Leaders become legends. But you don’t get legends if those casuals never become vested in the game.
Consider the reality Eve has been operating under for the past several years. Player retention is less than 10%. PvE is formulaic and of extremely poor quality compared to the industry standard. From an “entry level” perspective, Eve is not engaging. It’s not approachable. Three years ago, the leaders of today left the game frustrated and unfulfilled.
That’s the real reason our player count is as low as it is. It’s not a matter of this change affecting capitals or that change affecting sov mechanics. Eve’s attrition is minimal compared to other games. It’s the replenishment that’s suffering.
And a dynamic PvE experience is the best way to encourage players to engage with the game long enough to evolve within the game. Leaders in Eve aren’t born, they’re grown. And most of them start as miners, mission runners, and haulers.
Your PvP game depends on the work of all those enablers, most of whom started their careers as PvErs. Yes, remaining “just” a PvE player may seem to miss the point to all of us PvPers. But let’s not discount the importance of the first step in the journey of a player who ends up influencing thousands. It’s the first link of a chain that, when broken, denies us of our generals and reasons for fighting.