Hilmar AMA Review

I was originally planning on CCP releasing the CSM info for this year this past week, but given that it’s Saturday, with no sign of a post despite the sentence at the end of the original Brisc ban, I’m assuming it’s not happening this week. Instead, I’ll be working down my post backlog with a review of Hilmar’s AMA, held at the end of March. This didn’t get a huge amount of attention outside the forums, despite having some very interesting information, so this should be of use to those of you who haven’t been able to check it out.

Given the sheer volume of answers, I’ll be extracting highlights rather than addressing every single one. You can, however, view all answers at the AMA link here. I’ll also be grouping answers by topics instead of chronologically.

Population

This is the group of answers I was least expecting and most happy to see. Hilmar gave quite a few answers that directly addressed the current population, alts, and account growth. The biggest one, and most impressive, was that EVE is currently at the level of its previous peak in terms of new account creation back in 2013. Every week, 10,000 people start playing EVE, but the flip side of this, which creates the negative, is that most of the those people have quit EVE within 30 days. This is the reason they’re focusing so much on the 30 day NPE, rather than getting new players, as the falloff is insane. I’ve noticed this anecdotally as well, but it’s good to have hard number confirmation from CCP. I’ve got this as a key part of my platform because I honestly believe that without a consistent influx of new players, EVE will suffer. You can read more in the highsec section here.

The other big number was the number of accounts per human, which is currently sitting at around 1.6. This is up 0.1 from 4 years ago in 2015, which is very interesting to see. Many people, myself included, would’ve suspected it to go up more than that, given how much multi-account gameplay has taken off. While carrier multiboxing ratters are no longer a thing, so many more people now have at least one alt account, even if it’s just an alpha.

CCP the Company

This was the section Hilmar is pretty uniquely situated to address, given his role as CEO of CCP. He led off addressing the Pearl Abyss acquisition, and while there was a whole lot of fluffy corporatespeak, he did mention some specific benefits, namely that the stability of the acquisition means they can realistically make long term investments like DX12 and the 64 bit client, as they know that EVE will be around long enough for this to pay off. This is, as I’ve mentioned before, definitely a good sign for the game as a whole, as the longer EVE is around, the better it is for everyone. The bad signs come once a game starts looking like it’s going into maintenance mode. The other note was Korean localization, which would allow them to expand into the Korean MMO market hopefully, providing a significant population boost if successful.

The other big set of questions for Hilmar was regarding the various non-EVE business actions. I want to lead this off with a bit of an unpopular statement. This kind of diversification by CCP is ultimately good for EVE as a whole, as it, much like PA, means that CCP isn’t a one trick pony. When EVE is the only income stream for CCP, it means that the moment EVE starts suffering, CCP as a whole goes down. If EVE is part of a diverse portfolio, EVE can suffer and be propped up by the income from the other products during those valleys. Sure, it means fewer resources going to EVE in the short term, but it’s important to think about the long term in this.

Running down the line of projects:

  • Nova: Still in development, is not cancelled.

  • War of Ascension: Now being made by CCP instead of a third party, more info to come this year.

  • EVE Echoes: Actively in development by CCP and Netease jointly.

  • EVE TV Series: ‘Plans’ exist, but there’s nothing concrete or near term.

On EVE merchandise and monetization, Hilmar mentioned that they’re looking to continue to improve the skins system. He recognizes they messed up on a lot of the older ones, but he’s been liking the way some of the very new ones have been working. He also plans to have far fewer plex sales this year, as they went overboard last year and want to reign it in. Finally, the low demand for the physical store means they’re not able to get a partner for the EU that would allow cheaper shipping. Personally, I think that low demand may be in large part due to the excessive prices in the first place, it’s still absurd.

The other one mentioned was character renames possibly showing up. This is something I think would very bad for the game, as while you can include name history, you wouldn’t be able to easily show full history in local for instance, and most people don’t want to have to click on every single person’s name. Sure, injectors exist and allow you to somewhat do a ‘rename',’ but reputation is key in EVE, and you should not be able to dodge it.

EVE’s Tech

POS CODE IS OFFICIALLY DYING SOON

Other than that glorious news, there’s a whole lot of remarks on tech. CCP has been primarily focusing on their tech debt and QoL fixes in 2019, The two big clientside ones are DX12 and the 64 bit client. DX12 will apparently give them the option to add more enviroment to space, so they can do dense asteroid belts, planetary rings, and generally flesh out solar systems. The 64 bit client I’ve spoken about before, but it should have great benefits in terms of not crashing all the time. Another interesting couple things they’re aiming for in 2019 are the internal tools and downtime. The former didn’t have too much detail, but the latter is a big deal. They’re currently debating switching to having downtime every other day. They’ve reduced the length many times before, but this is a whole different level. Downtime mechanics are a huge part of a lot of gameplay, especially DT super moves. I’m not sure how I’d feel about it disappearing entirely, but making it every other day seems to be a reasonable compromise.

On the longer term end, there seems to be a lot of look at other companies. Hadean is the big one recently, you likely saw their demo a while back. Hilmar seems to believe that Hadean’s engine will potentially allow them to update EVE’s current destiny engine and cut out a lot of the shortcuts they did when starting out that have begun to cause issues. He mentions that this is viable on EVE specifically because of the low tick rate, it would be substantially less viable in something like CSGO where reaction times are key, rather than once per second. The other dev they’ve been talking to is Epic, makers of Unreal Engine 4. They’ve been contemplating a move towards UE4 on EVE, after trying it out on projects like Gunjack. However, it currently does not have a lot of key capabilities, which they’ve been going back and forth with Epic on.

Overall, I’m really happy to see CCP trying to update their game into the current era, as given the age of the game, they need to put more and work into making the old code work around it. I’m perfectly fine to not see big feature additions if it means the game gets refreshed in terms of technology, as it’s a short term loss for a long term gain. One amusing note relevant to this is that Hillmar’s greatest regret is not considering multiple cores when they first started working on EVE, as that’s come back to bite them in the butt over and over.

Gameplay

Lastly, and what most of you are probably the most interested in, I’ll be summarizing his answers around gameplay. Right away I want to mention that I was very disappointed in his answers for FW, Lowsec, and Wormhole questions. While there were variations in the corporate speak used, they all basically summarize down to ‘We have no plans to do any significant work on these areas in the near to mid future.’ This is pretty ridiculous, considering how important these regions are. There’s more to the game than the NPE and null, and ignoring that takes a heavy toll. No one likes seeing lowsec a deadland, or wormholes just being used for null roams. It’s a really bad attitude for CCP to take, and I am not a fan of it at all. You can read my positions on these regions for lowsec and wormholes on this site for more info.

There was also some talk regarding his philosophy on EVE. He’s firmly committed to EVE staying a dangerous place, but not to the point of exploitation that harms the game as a whole, as with wardecs, where they had hard statistics on how many people were quitting because of this. The bumping mechanics were part of this, where there’s apparently been quite a lot of internal debate over it, a change from the previous announcement of a 3 minute bump timer. I personally think the whole permabumping thing is pretty broken, no one should be stuck for 20 minutes with no option to deal with the bumper other than forming a gank fleet to shoot the mach, ironically. I’m not saying ganks shouldn’t be viable, and I recognize the importance of bumping there, but there really has to be a time minute, even if it’s five minutes or so. Long enough that the bumper should be able to get tackle on and gank it, but not so long that they can go form a fleet and burn over from a few systems over. It would need testing, but there needs to be a limit.

One thing that came up over and over in this AMA was risk free isk faucets, especially in null. Hilmar feels that the reason plex prices are increasing isn’t low supply, but rather that the number of isk faucets is causing the value of isk to be lower vs plex. I can definitely see that, given the bounty numbers coming off the MER, combined with the rise of bots, and this also would seem to explain the continuous null anom nerfs. This is definitely a good focus to have, since the issue’s been getting worse and worse, and having someone willing to take firm action on it is great to see.

On the subject of absurd empires, Hilmar is not a fan of how much keepstar proliferation there is currently. He’s looking at trying to reduce that, which does make sense to me, as it’s pretty absurd how easy it is for large groups to plop down keepstars any time they deploy anywhere with their umbrella. The other side of this was that they’re trying to extract as many lessons as they can from how PIBC became dominant on Serenity so that they can avoid similar situations popping up.

As a whole, I think this AMA was definitely a net benefit. Despite the naysayers, there were a whole bunch of concrete answers and new information to come out of it, far more than you’d expect given how little discussion there was. I hope to see this style of community relations continue in the future.

Cornak Firefist