Monday, January 9, 2023

A Producer's Letter Brings A Roadmap, Expansions Back To EVE Online

An important lesson I hope CCP learned from the "Chaos Era" is that EVE players do not like being treated like mushrooms (kept in the dark and fed fertilizer). The new framework for the roadmap seems a concession for players' desire for knowledge. Starting at the beginning of 2020, players will receive the names and theme's for the upcoming three months, and the name of the theme for the following quarter.

- The Nosy Gamer, 29 October 2019

One important thing I've learned through the years is players like to know that not only that content is coming. Knowing the general what is coming is probably as important as when. Perhaps the gold standard in the MMORPG industry today is the Producer Live Letters streamed by FFXIV's Producer and Director Naoki Yoshida. He gave his 75th last month. Not only do players have a road map of when content will come out, but they also have a general idea when Yoshi-P will give an update.

Blizzard seems to have learned the same lesson. For the first time World of Warcraft has a road map letting players know what will come throughout 2023. WoW Executive Producer Holly Longdale wrote the following in December.

A WoW expansion is not a single moment in time but a journey —we know that the merit of an expansion hinges on the sustained quality of its entire arc. Years after its release, Legion is remembered fondly as much for the 11-week content update cadence that served as the framework for its first year as it is for artifact weapons or Khadgar's brilliant dad jokes.

In planning out the road ahead following the release of Dragonflight, we've been mindful of the duty we owe our players to nurture this living world and, frankly, the need to do better than we have at times in the recent past. Our goal for Dragonflight is that there should always be something right around the corner, with a new update hitting our test realms shortly after the last one is live and in your hands.

All of this leads us to Friday's Producer's Letter from CCP. Since Andie Nordgren left as EVE's Executive Producer in 2018, CCP as tried to abandon providing roadmaps to players. The first failure was 2019's Chaos Era which led to the Quadrant system which ran in 2020 and 2021. In February 2022, CCP announced the end of the Quadrant system:

This update comes without a Quadrant theme to kick off the year. That is because it has been decided that after 2 full years, it’s time to evolve from Quadrants into something new, taking the good and combining it with learnings from previous efforts (such as the Invasion) as well as former expansions.

It’s been a great journey, and we’ve learned a lot along the way. However, as we look ahead and into the future, there are some bigger topics we want to tackle that will take more time than Quadrants allowed, making this the perfect time to take those learnings and enter a new era.

The lack of a roadmap lasted one year. For 2023, CCP published a high-level roadmap.

Yes, the two expansions a year model that dominated EVE's first decade is back. However, the explanation sounds like a load of fertilizer. Or perhaps gaslighting. I'll let the reader decide.

Over the last couple of years, we have carried out important, foundational work that enabled us to build Uprising, our first expansion since 2018. We aim to continue releasing expansions of this caliber going forward, with additional updates, more shiny toys, and riveting world events like the stellar transmuter incident in-between to keep New Eden vibrant, active, and well-balanced.

The Uprising expansion seemed more a reaction to the player uprising against Pearl Abyss' desire to put NFTs and blockchain technology into EVE. The success of the player revolt against such content was confirmed on the Pearl Abyss Q3 2022 Investors' Call held in November. CCP is still the studio working on web3/blockchain technology, but will do so in the Icelandic studio's upcoming game in development.

The roadmap does need a little work. The graphic above shows the introduction of the Microsoft Excel plug-in for EVE occurring in the first quarter, but won't officially launch until the second quarter. But perhaps players can get excited about EVE in 2023 with the knowledge of two major content drops coming in the second and fourth quarters.

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