By now I'm sure many of you have read the recent dev blog on the upcoming industry changes coming this summer. It is universe shaking, to put it into a proper perspective, and will drastically impact what is truly the center of EVE, the economy. Recently Mabrick remarked that these changes, along with the average gamers desire for casual gaming was a combination that does not bode well for the long term growth of EVE. It is interesting that he remarks on this now because I have, in my own gameplay, been experiencing a bit of this and been wondering what to do about it.
Many aspects of EVE do not lend themselves to players who only have a limited amount of game time. For example, even in our wormhole, it takes me roughly 12-15 minutes to run a site and that assumes that I can directly log on and jump into a combat site. The reality is that the prep time to possibly scan down our connection, scout the hole and then switch into combat ships is enough that even a simple task starts to approach the hour mark. I would venture to say that other areas of space have similar setup time around activities though in different ways. And these types of activities seem to be the least time consuming in EVE. Others like mining, industry, station trading, etc. all appear to require a larger commitment of time. Even my PI which makes me money while I'm not in game can take a relatively large portion of time for someone who may only have an hour of gaming available to them.
Much ado is made about how to retain players. Perhaps this aspect of "casual gaming" is one of the reasons that EVE has a harder time holding onto a large percentage of new players. Gaming has always had it share of dedicated hard core players and casual players looking for fun in small portions. It is an interesting issue and perhaps one that does not have a decent solution for EVE. Turn based games like Civilization can be picked up and put down on a moments notice. Even FPS like Titanfall have a limited time spent in each fight making it relatively easy to consume in small bits. EVE takes dedication and can be frustrating to someone just looking to spend a short period of time playing. It can make that time spent seem wildly unproductive and eventually lead players simply to no longer log in.
I find myself in the same situation. Running a corp takes time. It consumes pieces of time that you never thought it would just in communicating with members, answering questions, etc. My own personal play requires a certain amount of time to maintain my PI infrastructure to fund my accounts. This has left me recently feeling like I haven't really "played" EVE in a while even though I'm still getting things done. Sometimes things aren't about just the ISK/hr I'm making from PI but the desire to simply be playing...flying spaceships in space and maybe blowing some things up. I believe I've come up with a good way to balance this going forward for my own personal enjoyment. It will perhaps be something that I bring up more with new recruits to temper their expectations of EVE. While it may not cater to casual gamers, if you can find value in what you do and make sure that what you do in EVE has value to you, then it will be time well spent.
As CEO, one of the things that creeps into your head from time to time is "Are we successful?" which begs the question, how do you calculate or measure success. For myself personally, as a minimum, it is earning enough ISK to pay for my accounts by buying PLEX. It has been a goal of mine since I started, or should I say, restarted, playing EVE and more so in the past week since I reactivated my 2007 account. Each account has to be paid for and done so without drastically impacting my other. I may have a post in the future about how I meet that goal, but how do you measure a corporation's success?
Oddly, for a wormhole corp, perhaps the bare minimum is "I'm not dead yet!" every time we log on and our stuff is still where we left it. Not evicted today? *Whew*
Taking it beyond mere survival, does a corporation need to have goals greater than its members meeting their own personal goals? I suppose that all depends on the type of players that make up a corporation. Some may be the kind that thrive on the greater good, on their purpose in a larger organization and their contribution to it. Some may be independently minded where their success is their own and the organization is simply the structure through which they achieve that success. I derive a fair amount of personal satisfaction from meeting the needs of the independently minded pilots. I find that it empowers them to be content creators if they desire or otherwise meeting the personal goals resulting in, I hope, a mutual benefit. But what of those pilots who long for more?
I do not believe that the two are mutually exclusive. A corporation can set and achieve goals while empowering independently minded pilots to success. What any corporation must be cautions about is whether or not their goals are working against the goals of its pilots. I think if this is occuring, it manifests itself as burnout or maybe even the bittervet syndrome. Some of that, I think reflects in my own initial start with EVE. That 2007 account I reactivated has a meager 1.5M SP. I wonder sometimes if he is the oldest lowest skilled person in the game though I'm sure that can't be the case. I stopped playing back then for no other reason than EVE felt like a job. I don't recall that I was part of a corporation at the time yet I still came to feel that what I was doing was a grind and not worth it. My circumstances have changed and I was able to overcome that hurdle in my high-sec play long enough to reach the state I am in now inside the wormhole able to generate enough income via mostly passive sources to fund my account.
I believe this is the single most important thing that I offer to new pilots in the corporation: set up in our corp, get your income stream flowing, and EVE suddenly becomes much easier. As such, I think we've attracted a certain kind of player that reaches above the grind and is able to do so due to our environment. It pains me to think how the "rest of EVE" gets along trying to grind out enough cash to survive. There is a hurdle there. I see it with my co-founder who runs missions on one of his character slots. He has finally reached level 4 missions and is now in a similar situation where the income level has reached a level where the effort is worth the rewards. It is the hurdle I failed to clear my first time around.
What are the goals of my corporation? They're simple really. I sincerely want to provide a place where new players can clear the hurdle of making EVE fun and much of that involves removing the feeling that all new players have that they are, ultimately, poor. I have cleared that hurdle in my own play. I think our corporation has this goal firmly met and solidified in our foundation. I am setting my sites on the next goal which likely will involve moving the corporation in the future. This will be something that impact every player directly and probably initially as a detriment to their wallet and a dent in their play time. Will this be a positive change for the corporation? Perhaps. Any move up the food chain, so to speak, pulls us further and further from the new player foundation that I have set the corporation on. Only time will tell if this works out, but until then
Not dead yet
Previously, in my introductory post, I had remarked on the difficulty of recruitment in wormhole corporations. This challenge reared its ugly head for us this past weekend in a series of encounters that left us frustrated and looking for solutions. The short version is we were on the losing end of two engagements in our hole, both of our own choosing.
The first started with the sighting of a Tengu. Solo ships are rarely alone in wormhole space so we expected that this Tengu had some friends. We had what we thought was decent intel on the number of visitors in our hole as well as eyes on our entrances to be aware of any reinforcements. After some time running PI and generally trying to evoke a response, I decided to clear our sleeper site in my Dominix. It is a tanky ship I have used in C3 wormholes before and has micro-jump drive capabilities to get out of sticky situations. If the Tengu wanted something juicy, I figured this would be it. Our scouts were cloaky, though in smaller Astero frigates and we had one of our more experienced members in a Recon ship ready to go. Not a terribly powerful combination, but perhaps enough tor a Tengu and maybe a companion.
As I was nearly finished with the site, as expected, the Tengu dropped and here we began making mistakes. First, our scouts left their positions to engage. For a small corp, it is necessary to bring any available pilots to a fight. We do not have the luxury of dedicated scouts in most cases. Some of us run multiple accounts but for the most part we are individual players. Unfortunately, the hole the solo scout left was the one the reinforcements came in. We had alts on at least one other entrance, just not the one that ended up being critical. In the end, our small contingent was dropped on by three Tengu which made quick work of the Recon which had landed directly into the fray instead of landing at range. A simple piloting error, but a costly one. Luckily for me, my Dominix was able to MJD to safety and make it out alive.
In our second encounter the next day, we took the bait of a Drake lingering in the wormhole scanning and jumping from hole to hole and eventually being caught on our high-sec entrance. Our high-sec entrance was a busy starter system so this type of visitor is often commonplace in our wormhole when we have that type of connection. I was in my hunting Astero and gained lock and tackle while my corpmate landed with his Proteus. The target jumped to high-sec and the Proteus followed (later learned to scope out the situation in high-sec and check if there were reinforcements). Unfortunately for us, the reinforcements were in the wormhole, not in high-sec and when the two came back polarized, it seemed our good fortune that we would now destroy this visitor who could not warp way or duck back into the wormhole. It was at this point that we should have disengaged. No high-sec visitor or even WH resident in a Drake set upon by a Proteus and Astero would jump back into a wormhole, polarizing himself, unless he knew he had the friends to back him up. The heat of battle sometimes gets the better of you. Two Proteus, another Drake, and an Onyx landed almost immediately and began laying into my corpmate and his Proteus. I made for cover knowing that as soon as that Onyx dropped his bubble, I was done. The only other corpmate online was the Recon pilot from the first encounter who had yet to replace his ship or have any other PvP ships available. The Proteus was lost and there was nothing we could do about it.
We are supposed to learn from our mistakes. The reality for us, and this was a topic of discussion inside the corporation after these encounters as well, is that we continue to be behind the curve in active members. We are not lacking in attitude or willingness to fight in the members we have. These are solid pilots with superior dedication to the corporation and what we are doing together. I feel bad in many ways that I escaped with my ships while they did not. We continue now to explore new ways to bring pilots into the corporation with some great ideas coming out of of our memberships. Our community is strong though small. We are doing plenty of internal things to strengthen that but our biggest hurdle continues to be growth and we are starting some projects to maybe address that long term which I will definitely discuss later as they take root.
Just a quick post to give my thoughts on the upcoming CSM elections. Being an avid blog reader and podcast listener, I have gather up a fair amount of information on the candidates and have a few that I will certainly be casting my vote for
1. Sugar Kyle
Superb blogger with a gift for what I consider to be the style of play that benefits EVE as a whole. She embraces the community not in a max/min way but in one that is mutually beneficial to those she encounters and has a head for many aspects of the game and should be a great addition to the CSM
2. Ali Aras
Incumbent and extremely well spoken. Her current term on the CSM has been well used in my opinion and deserves a second go-around
Goon, yes, but perhaps the smartest person in the room...in most rooms. Without a doubt an asset to the CSM seeing things that perhaps no one else has thought of.
4. Mike Azariah
Another incumbent and worthy of a repeat trip to the CSM. From everything I've read on him, he has been a valuable member of the CSM and a great spokesperson for the accessibility of EVE to new players.
5, 6, 7, 8, and 9. Asayanami Dei, Karen Galeo, Jayne Fillon, corbexx, and Proclus Diadochu
As a wormhole resident I would be amiss and wanting to see a wormhole presence on the CSM. These four candidates all bring something unique to that platform, especially Jayne who operates the Spectre NPSI fleets. I would love to see one or more of these candidates on the CSM so that wormhole life, which really impacts many other aspects of EVE has a clear voice.
10. James Argent
Another incumbent with a good track record. I believe a strong mix of new and previous CSM members will provide excellent consistency between terms which, given CCP's long term plans is beneficial to all of us as players
11. Steve Ronuken
Master of Fuzzworks, great voice for the out of game developers and those who give back tools to the community.
The most important part...get out and vote