Since July, players lurking in the darkest and crimeiest corners of Eve Online have been denied a valuable tool for surviving nullsec: seeing who else is in the same solar system. The "nullsec local blackout" meant that players had to speak in the local chat before they were counted and revealed to everyone else around, which made it a lot easier to lurk all sneaky-like. Developers CCP Games ended the 60-day blackout today, saying they've "seen some substantial changes in player behaviour" and learned a lot. Given recent talk of reintroducing chaos to the spaceskulduggery MMO, that's perhaps equal parts threat and promise.
"The blackout has given us an incredible amount of insight in terms of player behaviour, sentiment and ability to adapt to rapid short notice changes," CCP said today. "This will help to better inform us on where to take the direction of New Eden in future."
The blackout also put the fear up scamps who use bots to farm materials, with CCP reporting "a massive impact on those we believe to be suspected of botting." Bots watch warily for people entering the system, see, so not seeing the local population caused them trouble. Though I've read botters found ways to work around this, the persistent devils.
Talking on the Talking In Stations podcast in July shortly after the blackout began, CCP CEO Hilmar Veigar said this was one of several "calculated experiments" they had brewing. He noted they often overthink plans, so here they are doing something strange and using their extensive datagathering powers to draw conclusions.
"Overall we want to decrease the challenge for new players and we want to increase the challenge for veterans," he told the pod. "Eve Online has so many super-smart players that, to some extent, the game had already been solved . . . The end-game solution state of the chaos of Eve Online has been drained into order and everyone is slowly reaching a consensus on how things should be. That is a clear signal to us that we need to increase the challenge and we need to shake things up."
He added that he hoped Eve Online will "enter into a very exciting chaos era" after an era where "our sandbox is turning into cement."
A week before the blackout, an NPC faction launched an invasion and started attacking player-run starbases. Chaos indeed.
Responses from players in the official nullsec blackout forum thread range from players who loved the blackout wanting it back to players who hated it saying CCP had to turn it off because it was making people flee the game. No tidy consensus, then. Science!