Friday, May 25, 2012

D * V * F > R

Blog Banter 36: The Expansion of EVE
"With the Inferno expansion upon us, new seeds have been planted in the ongoing evolution of EVE Online. With every expansion comes new trials and challenges, game-changing mechanics and fresh ideas. After nine years and seventeen expansions, EVE has grown far more than most other MMOGs can hope for. Which expansions have brought the highs and lows, which have been the best and the worst for EVE Online?"
"Time may change me
But I can't trace time"
- David Bowie

CCP heralds the twice-annual EVE expansion as "Free", and in the strictest sense, it is. We don't have to pay more for it, but it is not truly free. Players pay every month for EVE, far more than maintenance costs. Seventeen expansions into EVE, I've seen ten of them, beginning with Trinity. When I tried to list the expansions I've seen, several were forgettable. I'll cover my top three, and touch upon the ones with the most failed promise that I've lived through.

I Trinity

Trinity holds a special place in my heart, as the most important EVE expansion for me. As a Mac user, I had drooled and grumbled about not playing EVE for the first four years it was out. When it was announced that the Intel conversion at Apple was bringing EVE to the Mac, I signed up for a subscription on Day 1 (I didn't even do a trial). It wasn't the most game changing expansion for EVE, but it was for me.

II Apocrypha

Apocrypha had the most impact on me as a player. I had been solo-ing EVE (badly), and having skills to get in and out of wormholes early in the Apocrypha days made me friends with people who did things in groups, and opened my eyes to the truth of EVE - it is not a game for solo players. New probing methods, Tech 3 ships, isolated islands in space, Apocrypha brought about a whole new class of player - the dedicated wormholer, and strategies and tactics alongside it.

III Crucible

For many, Crucible was the make or break of EVE. Players who had yearned for the success of Incarna had been disappointed (putting it mildly), and the issues that surrounded Incarna needed a clean break. Crucible focused CCP on spaceships, and EVE was once again a fun, beautiful game that included spaceship combat. Cruible kept many of us from leaving the world of New Eden forever.

The worst expansions are harder to cover. Really, only one expansion in the 4+ years I've played EVE has been bad. I had some forgettable ones though. Quantum Rise and Tyrannis didn't bubble to the top of my memory when thinking about expansions, and I wasn't sure Incursion was a full expansion until I checked the expansion history on Wikipedia. That didn't make them necessarily bad, they just weren't...memorable. In the four years I played EVE, only Incarna was a failure as an expansion. Incarna has been covered so many ways, by so many including myself, I'd rather just say "it was bad" and leave it in the basement.

Two expansions that could have been amazing were Empyrean Age and Dominion. Both of these brought about new conflicts, new areas for player driven content, and both were abandoned half-finished or worse – broken. With the recent introduction of Inferno, CCP looks like they might actually make good on the promise of the Empyrean Age, and it hints at changes to fulfill Dominion in the future. Here's hoping that Winter 2012 (or Summer 2013) brings about the next iteration in the long-broken Dominion as well.

The title of this post is taken from "The Formula for Change" created by Richard Beckhard and David Gleicher, refined by Kathie Dannemiller and is sometimes called Gleicher's Formula. This formula provides a model to assess the relative strengths affecting the likely success or otherwise of organisational change programs.

Simply put, Change = dissatisfaction + vision + practical first steps

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