The Mittani: Will we call for Hilmar to step down? That sounds like tilting at a windmill. I don't think that calling Hilmar to step down would accomplish anything, it would be the height of foolishness and a tremendous waste of political capital. The situation with Hilmar's email is kind of a funny thing, as if it hadn't been leaked we would have never seen it. I was enraged when I was on EVE Radio as it first leaked and I read it, and I still think that the community would like to see an apology from Hilmar in some capacity.
After every expansion, Hilmar sends out an email as a pep talk to the employees. From what I saw when I was in Iceland, part of the reason he was sending that email is that your average CCP grunt who has nothing to do with the foolishness behind the rollout of the Noble Exchange and the communication errors stemming from that -- people who are essentially innocent in this controversy -- are really feeling beaten down. The average people I hang out at bars with in CCP, they're shell-shocked and Hilmar's email was clearly intended as a pep talk to try to make the best of an ugly situation.
That said, the playerbase took something very valuable from that email, as ugly as it was from a player perspective. Hilmar said CCP was going to listen to what players do and not what they say, to actions and not words. The playerbase took that and they demonstrated their ability for actions over words. Not just with the riots in Jita, but more importantly by mashing their unsubscribe button. If there's anything the playerbase has learned from this, it's that when players begin to react to a controversy at the level of unsubscribing from the game, CCP listens and CCP listens very quickly. I think that is quite useful, going forward.
What was it like to be called to Iceland with such little notice?
The Mittani: It was a big pain in the ass. The CSM's perspective on this is that it could all have been avoided with some better communication. This has always been CCP's tragic flaw, they're terrible at communicating with the playerbase, and they have a habit of creating controversies when if you actually have a decent discussion with proper context, you realise that the controversy is not there.
Due to the leaks and miscommunications coming from CCP, by the time that we actually got [to Iceland], we along with the playerbase, had grown to be quite worried that perhaps plans had changed regarding game-affecting microtransactions, because in May there weren't any plans for that. We came to Reykjavik angry and paranoid, and we left still torqued off because the trip was a pain the butt. It was not a happy fun wine and dine session, it was contentious and we threw an awful lot of punches. We believe that all of this could have been avoided with better communication [from CCP] out of the gates.
Just to put some things from the EVE Online forums and Failheap Challenge to rest, what do you mean with "ship spinning" and bringing it back exactly?
Arnar: That's a very good question, and it has a very straightforward answer really. The act of ship-spinning is simply viewing your ship docked in a hangar and being able to spin it. It is as literal as it sounds, and this is a great case of misunderstanding between the community and CCP. We always believed ["ship spinning"] was a sort of soundbite for players who were unhappy with Incarna or didn't want to see their avatar. It turned out when we dug into it that people literally meant that they have an emotional connection with their ship and they want to be able to click their mouse into space and spin their ship along the hangar. So that's pretty much exactly what it is.
The Mittani: When we were at the CSM summit most recently, we did address the lost functionalities, such as being able to double click on your ship to open its cargo and clicking and dragging from the ships window to change your active ship. We brought all that up, and I believe we were satisfied with what we were told, but I wasn't paying total attention during that session.
Arnar: In some cases the ship spinning was a euphemism for the lost functionality of being able to quickly switch ships or open cargo, and that's functionality we are definitely bringing back, to get the functionality players are used to into the new hangar scene.
Arnar: There's a devblog coming out in a couple of days along with a couple of items into the store. That devblog is going to go into detail on the pricing strategy itself and explain the price tier system. We hope to have continuous launching of new assets over the coming weeks and months. This is something we're dedicated to -- populating the price tiers up to an acceptable level. We have items in each price tier but we haven't really seen the extremes of the scale in either direction. So while this is indicative, it's definitely not set in stone.
The Mittani: We were quite vehement in saying that there needed to be more low-tier pricing when we were at the summit. There [is currently only one] low-tier item in the store. This is one of the big screw ups, because the store wasn't populated with enough in the low tier and high tier, it was primarily middle tier items. I think that had that tiering been populated properly, it would have been fine.
How much effort does it take on CCP's part to make an Incarna fashion item like the monocle?
Arnar: The monocle itself is not really difficult to make. What's difficult is to get the artistic style right, especially for things like monocles that are (pardon the pun) very much in your face for the entire time. It's very hard to get them just right on our artistic standpoint. So while the asset production itself does not take terribly long, maybe a few days of modeling and texturing, the concept time and figuring out where it fits in a fashion sense can take a long time.
At the same time, you can have much more complex assets that take weeks to go through the pipeline from concept to texturing and modeling outsourcing; like a long coat or something like that. A lot of this stuff can be very easily patched through to outsourcing. We create the concept on it and give the guidelines and then just "push button, receive bacon" at the end of it.
Will there be items more expensive than the monocle added to the store?
Arnar: I fully expect so, at some point, definitely.
The Mittani: Essentially they could come out with something, just as a hypothetical, like a unique ship model with limited runs that they want to charge a billion dollars for. As long as it doesn't impact the competitive gameplay of EVE Online; if some crazy rich person wants to buy that, I don't care. By and large, the CSM doesn't care, and that money goes to help the development of EVE.
If you look at the World of Warcraft mount secondary market, a good example of this is those ridiculous spectral tigers. People will pay $850 trying to buy one of those things, which to me is nuts, but it doesn't impact my gameplay if they want to buy themselves a sparkle pony or spend their money on stupid things. Humans spend their money on stupid stuff all the time, whether they're playing MMOs or they're buying sports cars or houses that are too big for them.
When is the next portion of Incarna going to roll out, and what can we expect?
Arnar: We're going to see more racial variance of captain's quarters added in the next few months. The next phase of Incarna will be the multiplayer establishments, and I really don't think I can give any solid timeline on that just yet. But we're looking at this year, definitely, for the next big evolution on that front.
I'd like to give a massive thank-you to everyone who sent in questions and to CCP for hosting this press conference. Not all questions were able to be answered due to time limits. If anyone still has further unanswered concerns, feel free to email them to firstname.lastname@example.org or leave them as a comment and I'll do my best to get some answers.