Eve Online And The Big Nerf

I’ve been playing Eve Online on and off for about five years now and I don’t think I’ve ever seen as much controversy as that being generated by the most recently proposed changes. These changes basically concern how fast medium sized spaceships should go, and what the ramifications for the rest of the game will be if they’re made to slow down. The mixture of rage, indignation and constructive feedback that has emerged in response to the proposals has created a sixty-three page thread on the official forums, and countless arguments elsewhere – even between my own Eve Onlining chums. But are the subs-paying players right to be angry when the developer changes the nature of their favourite toy? And who should be calling the shots anyway?

The argument taking place over the nature of speed as a tactic in Eve Online casts CCP in a rather autocratic light. The speedy ships that have evolved over the past eighteen months have appeared organically, as players did what they do best: figure out how to squeeze the most out of their chosen game. CCP have said that they want the tactic removed, and that’s that. Feedback might tweak things, but the changes are needed, say the CCP space-combat boffins.

The people who pilot the speedy ships, and have spent hours grinding for the money (or seconds trading game-time cards for the money), are predictably non-plussed, and have vented according. But do they have any right to their anger? Is it not the case, in fact, that CCP have a responsibility to keep the game evolving, and to keep it changing? Even if speed is a positive force in the game (which is highly debated), doesn’t CCP’s mandate to keep the game alive mean making changes that will ensure it cannot stagnate, even when those changes are radical? Speed is, as CCP point out, the most important factor in combat. So important that it is now the primary consideration in almost any Eve Online PvP situation. So should the balance be necessarily changed for the sake of progress?

Okay, I’m being slightly silly here, but nevertheless I think it’s worth stressing that Eve’s primary strength is its modular, changing nature. It is not finished, and it might never be: and so doesn’t an evolving game experience mean that the mechanics need to shift, as well as content?

In my incredible book about videogames I argue that Eve is basically a ongoing symbiotic process – the developers need the players, and the players need the developers. They both get something out of the deal. But what this also implies is that Eve cannot remain static: both player and developer are involved in making this game change and grow, and perhaps that means the developer has to make some unpopular decisions for the good of the process as a whole. The relationship between player and developer is not one of equals, nor is it always at its best when it is entirely amiable.

Eve Online has never stayed the same for long. When it does stop change – for good or ill – it will be dead.

I, for one, welcome our Nerfing Overlords, and hope that a new landscape of (slightly slower) space tactics awaits our careful exploration.


  1. kadayi says:

    Nice post Noc, you summed things up perfectly I’d say.

  2. Alex says:

    I always thought Thief would make a good MMO.

    Any game where building atmosphere is important isn’t the best MMO-material, I think. I mean, just imagine G@rett34 calling TheBuildersWrath4Thee a “fuking n00b lol”.

  3. luphisto says:

    i wish i had enough disposable time and money to sink into this game. i used to play on and off while i was still at home but the real world is a bastard. perhaps if i could win the lottery….

    but while is was playing i found the population to be by far the best of any mmo, although i must admit the main thing that put me off was the mind melting learning curve and complexity of gameplay.

  4. antonymous says:

    The nano nerf is wrong as most nerfs are.. if they can’t bring something NEW instead the pvp will only degenerate more.

    The thing that needs nerfing most are the gazillions that some alliances make from moon mining. Now that kills the game by creating the lag-blobs firsthand.

  5. Filth says:

    Any game where building atmosphere is important isn’t the best MMO-material, I think. I mean, just imagine G@rett34 calling TheBuildersWrath4Thee a “fuking n00b lol”.

    Isn’t this exactly what EvE is?

  6. arqueturus says:

    In the time that I’ve been playing (5 years now) there have been many many balances, many nerfs but there has never been a single roll back.

    Tracking changes so that Battleships couldn’t hit Frigates easily was a bigger nerf than this, along with the Missile changes than rendered larger Missiles unable to damage small fast ships (the beginning of the speed issue in fact).

    The speed monkeys can relax there will be a new winning setup soon enough.

    Eve evolves.

  7. machineisbored says:

    I re-activated an old trial account a month ago and got myself into the Penny Arcade corporation, Merch Industrial. They in turn are member of GoonSwarm, and the fact that MerchI’s home system is within spitting distance of the battlefront means that action is never far away.

    Even mining is that bit more interesting when you have to constantly be on the look-out for hostiles, and PvP is a lot less painful when you can pick up a free replacement Rifter after you get insta-popped on scouting duty..

    Like any MMO (in my experience) much of your enjoyment of the game depends on you finding a good group of people to play with.

  8. Jim Rossignol says:

    Machineisbored is dead right on that count – it’s all about the people. RPS readers currently adrift in Eve can drop me a line via email if you’re looking for a small, slow-paced PvP corp. Application does not guarantee an invitation, mind.

  9. Gorgeras says:

    Er, is it the corp I’m already in? The PCG one or is this some other PCG-related thing that no one ever tells me about?

    Three months and the buggers still haven’t given me hanger access. I’m just an ugly small gunner.

  10. Rufust Firefly says:

    I think the lag is actually worse than it was when I started, but maybe my patience for it has gone down. (It’s more irritating losing a Scorpion when you can’t activate a module than it is when your tackling Rifter blows up.)

    EVE does evolve–I doubt the removal of insurance payouts means the end of suicide ganking, it will just mean everyone moves down from battleships to something smaller.

  11. undead dolphin hacker says:

    EVE Online: The prettiest screensaver since Dungeon Siege.

  12. Jim Rossignol says:

    Gorgeras: No.

    undead dolphin hacker: Also mistaken.

  13. Janek says:

    Yeah. It’s more of a very pretty IRC client ¬_¬

  14. arqueturus says:

    Hoho! Janek you witty rascal!

    Eve is very much the long game, something it doesn’t try and hide. Excitement does exist however, once you get beyond the initial tutorial, you just need to look for it a little.

    I’m really rather looking forward to the speed nerf, although I suspect I’ll die more often.

    *Polishes Artillaries*

  15. Mark says:

    To toss in my 2 cents….or 1
    I’ve been playing Eve for about 2.5 years now, I don’t fly nano ships, save once I poly fit a curse and lost it the same day due to the exact same method that lets me kill nano-ships s easily. They have no tank, the larger the ship, the slower it turns, and its entirely cap dependant, so what do you due? Time a Nuetralizer and bam, they die as fast as a tech 1 hauler.

    I agree that the ludicrious speeds need to be nerf’d a bit, the crow that goes 24km/s with gang bonuses, or the vega that can hit 18km/s, and even the other HAC’s that can outrun a faction light missile. Like many others here, I argue HOW they are going about it; sweeping nerfs, very odd mod changes (that should be an either/or, not both).

    What I see is CCP not considering the BAD effects of this (or any) broad nerf, and only looking for a solution to the current, and very real problem.

    On the plus side of things I look forward to docking all of my recons in station and taking out some of my assault frigs that have been getting dusty for the better part of a year.

  16. Ben says:

    They have made these kinds of changes before, and they will make more.

    They change the game, and don’t always help.

    Its not fair to restrict a playing style, simply because a minority don’t like it.

    The fact is running an top line speed setup is pricey, and risky business.

    These players forget that one speed setup Cruiser, cost double what a standard T2 battleship setup would.

    This price doesn’t include implants, or boosters.
    So I think it is only fair, that these setups work better and are hard to counter.

    They usually require 3 or 4 times the number or pilots.
    And Trained pilots as well, it takes time to learn to fly a ship at 3.5 km a second.

  17. Armelle says:

    @kororas – You say that you stopped playing. Are you going to sell your account on the forums? Or have you done so already? Maybe I can be the first to make an offer?

  18. Random eve player says:

    How on earth does it require skill to fly a ship? LOL all you do is lock and select orbit, and autopilotbtakes care of keeping in distance LOL

  19. busana muslim says:

    The speedy ships that have evolved over the past eighteen months have appeared organically