Wednesday, May 29, 2024

EVE: Equinox And A Surprising Amount Of Change

On Tuesday CCP Games released another video and dev blog in its Equinox In Focus series. With EVE Online's next expansion less than two weeks away, I have a few thoughts on the developers' plans to enhance corporation management and functions, AIR daily goals, and ship interactions.

The first part, enhancing corporation management, is very important. A lot of development time over the past few years when into retaining players longer than a day once they find EVE. Part of the effort is getting those new players into a good player-run corporation. Making the lives of those corporation leaders easier is just good business sense. Attracting and retaining good leaders is a lot harder than luring in new players.

The first part of the equation is developing a new corporation user interface.

The new design has a horizontal navigation bar with detailed sections in a sidebar, similar to the Opportunities window. This intuitive layout makes managing corporations easier for directors and CEOs. Tooltips will be added to each section, offering clear explanations of their functions and information about which corporation roles are necessary for access. This is the first step on the road to further improvements to this interface, laying a solid foundation for future enhancements and additions.

Back when I first started playing in 2009, CCP was well-known for creating features and then abandoning them to chase the next shiny idea. In 2024, we actually see iteration on existing features. A feature receiving additional attention is corporation projects.

The developers are adding three new types of corporation projects:

Ship Loss Projects: These projects give corporations the support they need to automate ship replacement programs by monitoring ship losses under predefined conditions and awarding ISK payouts accordingly. Conditions can be tailored to specify ship type, loss location, and the organization responsible, ensuring targeted support for corporation members and helping maintain fleet strength.

Earn Loyalty Points Projects: These automate LP buyback programs by setting a corp LP tax and offering ISK rewards for earning LP, applicable to any type of loyalty points. This flexibility provides valuable incentives for members to engage in loyalty point activities and contribute to the corporation’s growth.

Salvaging Projects: These projects monitor and reward the salvaging of wrecks, incentivizing members to keep their space clean or identify salvage operations during fleet combat. This adds another layer of engagement and responsibility within the corporation and further recognizes the contribution of the explorers and scavengers out there.

When I refer to iteration, I don't mean adding or changing the features. According to the dev blog:

A recent update to the underlying technology that supports these projects and Daily Goals, has improved load times and interaction speeds for a smoother and more efficient experience. This technological upgrade ensures that goals and projects load faster, making interactions with them more seamless and enjoyable.

I'm pointing out the lower load times because I can remember when loading the corporate UI for large corporations used to take several minutes. Like I stated before, making the lives easier for those players CCP relies on to provide the social organization and cohesion that encourages players to remain in an MMORPG just makes good business sense.

Next comes the updated goals section of the article. I'll copy and paste the section below so my commentary makes more sense.

AIR Daily Goals were introduced in the Havoc expansion last year and have already provided capsuleers with new and exciting daily activities to sink their teeth into in New Eden. With Equinox, they will receive a significant enhancement, adding a monthly reward track designed to offer more incentives for daily and sustained engagement. This new addition includes a 12 step progression system, where rewards are granted every third step. You can progress one step per day by completing two out the four daily goals to achieve the Daily Bonus, allowing you to reach the final reward in just 12 days out of the 30-day cycle. This flexible system ensures that even if you miss a few days, you can still acquire the ultimate reward by the end of the month.

This new system replaces the current daily login rewards, significantly increasing the potential monthly Skill Point gains per account. The daily bonus SP reward goes from 10,000 to 5,000 per character, but a new final SP reward track milestone has been added with up to 225,000 SP per character. Previously, simply logging in daily could net up to 150,000 SP per account per month, whereas the new system will reward more meaningful activities with up to 375,000 SP per character per month, meaning up to 1,250,000 SP per account. The daily goals are easily achievable for players of all levels and are the same for all capsuleers every day. This means more skills, more action, and more people in space!

First off, is the change in reward acquisition systems a recognition that monthly active user (MAU) and daily active user (DAU) metrics are, to use the technical term, bogus statistics? If so, I consider the move a major improvement. Developers are human beings too, and if they are incentivized to do something, like ensuring as many people log into the game as possible, that's what they will do.

The current system encourages people to log in and reach the character select screen to access the button to get the daily reward. No need to log onto a character and enter the game world, just logging onto the account sufficed. In Equinox, the developers are incentivizing players to undock to gain rewards. Are the developers designing the content to a new standard, that of average concurrent users (ACU) and peak concurrent users (PCU)? If so, players and developers will judge the popularity of the game using the same metrics.

The change in the removal of the daily login reward for activity based rewards may also change some of the in-game economic metrics. With the change I expect the money supply to drop from last month's 2.135 quadrillion ISK. How much will the money supply fall? I don't know, but the change may indicate just how much more popular the CCP leadership considered EVE than the player base looking at the average concurrent users on

The rewards for the new system will consist of EverMarks, SKINR items for personalized ship SKINs, ISK, and Skill Points (SP). Gone are the boosters, Abyssal filaments, and login ship SKINs. One item to watch for is will CCP supply another way to get filaments for beginning Abyssal runners? Or is the withdrawal of CCP generating them out of thin air an effort to make the filaments more valuable for those running tier 1 sites?

Next comes hangar management. I really want to see the see and use the new hangar user interface for myself before passing judgement, but the changes sound promising.

The first change sounds promising and I think scratches the itch that reaching a new level in other games scratches.

Various aspects of ship interactions are being refined to enhance the overall experience for capsuleers and make New Eden’s vessels and the requirements for flying them easier to understand. When you meet the requirements to activate a new ship, you will receive notifications and can navigate to the ship tree screen, where unlocked ships will be highlighted. The default action for unassembled ships is now "Assemble & Board," making it more intuitive and user-friendly.

Admittedly I'm getting older and now wear bifocals. Also, my opinion may change depending on how the UX folks used the space on the screen. But two weeks from launch CCP's changes sound promising.

A new card view option in the inventory window and station panel will display more detailed ship information, including group, type name, faction, and characteristics. This provides a comprehensive overview of your ships, making it easier to manage your fleets and ensuring that all relevant information is readily accessible.

Perhaps the most important part of the change is helping players develop a skill plan for desired ships.

When viewing ship or module requirements, you can save required skills as a skill plan, apply skill points, or add skills directly to the training queue. This streamlines the skill management process and makes training the appropriate skills, creating skill plans, and upgrading to fly your dream ship easier than ever.

Overall I consider the latest video and dev blog full of quality of life changes. For myself, the biggest obstacle may turn out to be overcoming years of muscle memory. I'm sure people can come along and nitpick points here and there. For myself, the changes look pretty good.

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