Player governance in EVE

After all the comments on that last EVE Online post, I gave it a try for the first time today. I basically just worked my way through the tutorials, but had a good time. I can see how the environment might feel tedious after a while, but I’m sure I’ll be playing some more.

I have no idea whether the choices I made during character creation were reversible, but it didn’t seem like it. Man, the whole irreversible character development mechanic is so backwards in long-term games like these. It will be nice when it’s finally died out.

I also saw that CCP just started accepting candidacies for the Council of Stellar Management, or as their news post was amusingly titled, the Council of Stellar Awesomeness. They announced their intent to do this months ago, so I’m not sure how much of this is old news, but the details are pretty fascinating to me. This is a player-elected council of nine members who represent the playerbase to CCP, and CCP in turn promises to “attempt to accomodate all reasonable [emphasis mine] requests by player Representatives” and to “do everything in its power to resolve the topics presented.” They’re taking it pretty seriously, too — each term of the council requires a face-to-face meeting at the CCP offices, with travel (to Iceland!), lodging, and food paid for by CCP.

It will be interesting, of course, to see how they define “reasonable.” If the populace and the CCP decide that Goonswarm is evil and should be disbanded, is that “reasonable?” What if they want to change a game mechanic that CCP is concerned would unbalance the economy? These decisions are complicated enough as is, but now they’ll have to factor in the risk and cost of defying the populace. Which can happen now, surely, but I think it’s a lot easier to defy the populace when their only voice is the vague cacophony of web forums. It’ll be a harder pill to swallow when there’s a clear, formal request from a democratically-elected government.

There is a brief summary PDF covering the CSM and the election process, and a longer (18-page) PDF that goes into more detail, including fascinating-sounding sections like “A Comparative Analysis of Real Structural Social Evolution with the Virtual Society of Eve Online” and “Political Theory and the Case for Democratically Elected Council in EVE”. I’ll be giving it a read soon.

12 thoughts on “Player governance in EVE”

  1. It’s an exciting experiment that CCP is going forth with. The one thing that players have to remember is that this council is a consultative body, not an authoritative one.

    The player base will voice their concern to Council members, which in turn will discuss it amongst themselves. If they judge that the issue needs to be looked into by CCP, they will present it, but will need to convince CCP of their reasoning.

    At which point CCP may or may not implement the changes voices by the players.

    The other point which is important to remember is that this council will not be responsible for day-to-day issues. It will only meet 3 times per terms; once in Iceland for a face-to-face, and twice by IM. Thus, any issues requiring immediate decision-making will not be done by the council.

    This is something very exciting in the MMO industry, which has never been attempted before.

  2. On the other hand, the cynic in me hears in his head words that have been true in politics since the times of Pericles: “If you want something to remain not acted upon, create a committee about it”.

    CCP’s problems must be solved by CCP, providing they truly want to solve them. Once you strip this thing off words like “council”, and the trips to Iceland, and all the hoollaballoo and you get down to basics, this merely a group of player reps/class reps/community reps, and we know how much real pull something like this has: As much pull as CCP wants it to have, and nothing more.

    Still it’ll be interesting to watch from the sidelines and see it develop long-term. That cynic I mentioned earlier is waiting to see all the things this Council is being set up to take the fall for, instead of CCP.

  3. As far as I know, the general consensus was that character creation choices shaped your early game, but had very modest effects on your long-term game unless you’re joining the hardcore minmaxing crowd. As a Gallente pilot, I started with a leg up in Gallente vessels & weapon systems, but could learn to fly anything with equal skill. There’s a cap on how much you can increase your stats from their starting value, rather than an absolute cap; if you choose really suboptimal stats, you can slow down your long-term power curve (making it easy to gain skills you don’t need and hard to gain skills you do need), but even that isn’t too crippling. A character with 6 months of experience “should” probably have +8 or +10 to every stat.

  4. There is no need for ‘respecs’ in EVE as the character system is entirely skills based. You either have levels in a skill, or you don’t. What you start off with will increase or decrease the time needed to learn a particular skill, but really, you’re just adding points into a huge bucket.

    Attributes determine how fast you learn Skills. Skill Levels determine what other skills you can learn. If you want to min/max, just check the forums, there are a bunch of stickies on the newbie forums about character creation.

  5. Attributes matter somewhat (don’t go for charisma), skills can be corrected over time.

  6. The only permanent part of character creation are your attributes. Every skill has a primary and secondary attribute which governs it, and your skillpoint gain per second for a skill is equal to your level of the primary attribute + 1/2 your level of the secondary attribute.
    Every character starts with 34 attribute points spread over 5 attributes. There is the potential to increase EACH attribute by up to 15 points; which can be done relatively early in the game. Your starting attributes are permanent, and should be chosen carefully (most people recommend minimizing charisma since it affects less skills than any other attribute), but you can alter them enough that it won’t matter too much.

  7. EVE has had player governance before, I believe. I’m a little fuzzy on the details, but I’m pretty sure they held elections and election faction “leaders”, but I can’t recall how it worked out.

    About the skill system in EVE: The problem with the permanent skill system is that you can spend six months learning a skill that opens up an all-new player activity… only to discover that your new player activity is as boring as watching paint dry. If that happens, you’re just out the time – there’s nothing you can do to respec or recover that lost real-time character development.

    So, suppose you spent 3-4 months developing a manufacturing guy because you like building stuff and want to make extra money… but then you discover that without exclusive plans, manufacturing stuff is a total dead end and factory time is insanely difficult to get and the whole thing is a huge hassle.

    Well, too bad. Spend the next 3-4 months making better choices, LOL. But without playing a specific role, you don’t know if you’ll enjoy it! And you can’t play it without investing the time to train it!

    So it’s a Catch-22 that’s designed to make you guess blindly about what part of the game will be fun for YOU and god help you if you’re wrong. It’s designed to make you waste your paid account time by making blind choices that can not be undone or reversed.

  8. Thanks for the info, all. :-)

    @Coherent: Yeah. Though I wonder if they get more subscription fees from “making people waste their paid account time” than they lose from people saying “well, screw that grind, I’m not gonna suffer through that again.” My guess is no :-)

    @Julian: “we know how much real pull something like this has: As much pull as CCP wants it to have, and nothing more.” Yeah. And that is a very wide spectrum of possibility! Their real power could be very narrow, or CCP’s attitude could be an idealistic “we really want to let this virtual society govern themselves, even if they shoot themselves in the foot and cost us short-term revenue, because in the long term, that’s going to be the most interesting virtual world we can create.” Their background document certainly sounds idealistic. I agree it will be interesting to see!

  9. @Coherent/James’ Response:
    That’s not playing EVE, that’s chasing a shadow carrot that you yourself invented.

    If you spend your first couple months getting the basic skills to Mine, Mission, Belt Rat, Trade and PvP, you should NEVER find yourself in a situation where skill training was wasted.

    Taking your example of manufacturing, even if that activity isn’t how you’re going to blaze your trail through EVE, you can now produce your own combat ships for the price of supplies. You can provide corp mates with ships and ammo at reduced price too, which strengthens the corp, and have some more experience to share with newer players to the corp. You can spend a couple days and get yourself back into a tackling frigate or PvE cruiser, or immediately switch over to basic trading. These probably won’t pay as well as simple mining, but you can get straight to the point of doing them without waiting two months.

    Diminishing returns and permanence are the strongest parts of EVE’ skill system. With diminishing returns you can do any basic activity to an acceptable and useful level relatively quickly, once you’ve found the area you really love, then you can specialize in it. Permanence means that if you have learned something once, you’ll never have to learn it again and can always switch over to doing it if you think it would be helpful.

    So yeah that NEW activity isn’t as fun as you thought it would be, so go back to having fun doing what you did before and start working on opening up something else. If you weren’t having fun while you were training it, either EVE just isn’t your game, or you’ve been trying to play WoW/EQ/TR/ in space, not EVE.

    Just so I do say something on the topic at hand though, I find the concept of the council interesting. However growing pains alone will make the first couple of years hell and I’m glad I’m not going to be on it for those. But five years from now I get the feeling we’ll look back on it fondly.

  10. What are the news about the CSM? What emerges from the meetings? Did CCP hear the voice of the players or not?

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