Wednesday, February 21, 2024

A Project Awakening Update: February 2024

Since CCP Games released the news last March, the general public has seen little news of Project Awakening, the Web3/blockchain game currently in development based on EVE Online. Over the past two weeks, little nuggets of news came out that I think can make up a short post.

First came Pearl Abyss' fourth quarter earnings call for 2023. During the call Pearl Abyss revealed CCP had conducted a confidential test and plans "to showcase Project Awakening within the first half of this year". As the continuing failure to launch Crimson Desert shows, however, Pearl Abyss often underestimates the time required to complete projects.

On the bright side for potential investors, Pearl Abyss returned to profitability in 2023, recording a net profit of ₩15.6 billion ($12.1 million). But the South Korean game makers operating profits fell into negative territory, indicating the potential for CCP to require another round of investment.

The second piece of news indicates the leadership of Pearl Abyss possibly isn't as far off the time estimate as normal. The Council of Stellar Management held a summit with the developers and leadership of CCP Games from 5-9 of February. The CSM is an elected group of players who serves partly as a focus group and partly as a warning system for changes the developers make to the game. If I am correct that Project Awakening is generally a port of EVE Online to Web 3 technology, then the input the CSM gives CCP about EVE Online will impact Project Awakening.

One of the members, Dark Shines, posted to the EVE sub-Reddit his notes about the recent summit. Why should millionaires care what Dark Shines thinks about Project Awakening? Because Dark Shines not only is the leader of The Initiative., the fourth largest alliance in EVE with over 16,000 characters, but is one of the game's top fleet commanders as well. If he says bad things about Project Awakening, that could affect acceptance of the game as well as those millionaires investments. CCP faced a significant player revolt against Web 3 technology in late 2021 and early 2022, so much that CCP's CEO  Hilmar Veigar P├ętursson had to issue a public statement stating, "we have no plans to add blockchain technology into EVE Online’s global server Tranquility for the foreseeable future." 

The first passage was Dark Shines impression of the first session on Project Awakening held on day 1 of the summit.

Yesterday I left out one meeting, regarding Project Awakening as I was unsure of the NDA boundries, but having spoke to CCP they confirm it was cool to mention it. Our second meeting yesterday was with the Project Awakening team.

I had a lot of reservations about Project Awakening given the nature of the tech it uses however I was able to voice those concerns during the meeting and was happy with frank conversation that followed. By the end of the meeting I was far more confident in this as a product and the direction / vision CCP have for it and I'm looking forward to seeing where it goes. I can't go into the specifics on it, but its clear to me that the drive behind the game and the people working on it are legit, so I look forward to seeing what comes next for Awakening.

Perhaps not the most information, but the members of the CSM are under an NDA concerning all the information discussed during summits. The second meeting, held on day 3, was also vague.

Our next meeting was with the Project Awakening Team. I asked several more questions around the gameplay, the vision of progression and how they would manage their messaging to the Eve Community given the massive concerns with Blockchain. I was satisfied with the answers I got, along with the answers to the other CSMs questions. It was also encouraging to see that Eve can benefit from some of the developments made here.

Again, vague on the details. But I was looking more for attitude towards the project, not details of what the project would present to players. And perhaps the most positive statement was the answer to a question, "How much do you know about blockchain technology from OUTSIDE of these meetings?"

Much like when I get a text asking me to click a link to accept a package i've never ordered, I know to avoid NFT, and the bad image with cash grabs on blockchain / crypto related stuff.

However from talking to people at CCP it's clear that it is a game using a specific technology, and not using a technology and tacking a game on as an afterthought.

The answer to the question tends to place into doubt my assumption that Project Awakening is a port of EVE with Web 3 technology added. Then again, how much would an EVE 2 differ from the original game? After twenty years CCP may finally deliver a sequel to the original game.

But perhaps the biggest takeaway is that one of the movers and shakers in the EVE player base doesn't hate Project Awakening. Which, in the grand scheme of things, is something to consider when thinking about the effort.

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