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I Find Your Lack of Faith Disturbing…

In the middle of a truly exceptional increase in new players coming to New Eden thanks to the coverage of the recent battle of B-R, most of the Eve community is banding together and making sure that these new players are welcomed “appropriately” into the game. Of course, by “appropriately” I mean exploded hilariously and then promptly mentored. The initiative undertaken by both CCP and players alike is a phenomenon I’ve not seen since Asakai. In the aftermath of Dabigredboat’s misclick came the creation of Brave Newbies – who now stand as one of the largest alliances in the game after just one year of existence. I believe that even that great spike in fresh blood pales in comparison to what’s going on now. The amount of community support that is welling up is surprising even to me.

And I couldn’t be happier.

CZ’s own Sindel Pellion has dusted off her Angel Project in earnest. Although frustrating moments lie ahead for her, she charges onward with the support of many other notable members of the community.

CCP Explorer has been on the ‘newbro’ issue like a hawk. Since the sudden influx of new subscribers, he’s been tirelessly making sure that new players know where to find information that may be helpful to them, not to mention where to find the super secret community of Eve players on Twitter at #tweetfleet. CCP Manifest, CCP Karkur, and CCP Fozzie are leading new pilot fleets into the depths of lowsec and nullsec. Baptism by fire seems to be the mantra of other new player friendly corporations that are welcoming them with open arms. Eve University, Brave Newbies, and RvB are seeing surges in their recruitment – record setting in some cases.

I realize that all of this is not news. Crossing Zebras doesn’t confine itself to just reporting news. Opinion, discussion, and the community are all central focuses within our writing staff; being closer to all of them has given me a better perspective of just how much impact we have on the community as a whole. There’s a new-found sense of refreshment around here. Our chats among the team, both on Skype and Twitter, are filled with a swelling of pride that we all share after the latest round of news exposure that’s brought this new tide of newbies to the game. That said, I believe the majority of Eve is helping to do their part in making sure that these new players feel appreciated and, of course, exploded appropriately.

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What is news to me is the disturbing tone among some bitter vets regarding the state of the game during this gold rush of growth. In a time that should be optimistic and celebratory of our new members, and what their increased presence means for the game, some of the most influential and outspoken members of the bitter vet order have taken it upon themselves to raise some of the most off-putting and pessimistic language I’ve heard in some time:

“I hope you enjoyed it because it’s probably the last that EVE is gonna see for a long while. Additionally, it’s a good bet that B-R5RB is not only the costliest battle EVE Online has ever seen, it’s the costliest battle EVE Online will ever see.” – Ripard Teg, Jester’s Trek The Last War (posted 30 Jan, 2014)

While Ripard’s comments may have merit from a realistic, nullsec-centric, political standpoint, I have to question why he felt it necessary to say this when tons of new players are thrusting themselves into the game hoping they can one day take part in the next historical fight worthy of their own monument. It’s not enough to get new players into the game. You have to let them set goals for themselves and give them the tools to find their motivation for doing it. After hanging out in the new player help channel, Brave Newbies general chat, and local starting systems, it appears to me that if we can do our part to help retain this new player base, Ripard’s comments stand to crumble like so much cake within a year or so.

“…to have enormous fleet battles, you need enormous numbers of players who are both active subscribers and logged into the game. And those numbers, as I’ve said many times, are quite stagnant.”- Ripard Teg, Jester’s Trek The Last War (posted 30 Jan, 2014)

Until now. The population spike seen since the battle of B-R will undoubtedly taper off and settle. Make no mistake, though, it will result in an overall increase in players. An increase that potentially could make the likes of RvB and Brave Newbies the next big threats to the game. This is an extremely very short-sighted view, in my opinion. The current nullsec blocks aren’t getting their newbie drive engines revved up for this onslaught like they used to. New players are particularly running to Brave Newbies by the droves. Recruitment is skyrocketing and recruiters aren’t able to keep up. We stand at the threshold of a potential Goons 2.0. We shall see how “stagnant” these numbers of 50,000+ online last, but I suspect that we’re not going to see that drop too much or too swiftly. Especially while we’re on the cusp of Fanfest, the New Eden Open, and the next expansion.

I was also pretty disturbed to hear the same kind of pessimistic attitudes expressed on episode 176 of Podside. In summary, the opinions expressed by FrFrmPukin and Longinus Spear regarding their faith in the CCP development process, while being partially valid from a past experience standpoint, could be perceived as destructive. From listening to the conversation, this game is in the hands of bumbling idiots who the players “have to be protected from” according to Spear. Now imagine being a new player, brought to the game thanks to B-R, and listening to that podcast. How much stock would you put into the game in which the community was basically throwing the developer under the bus? (EA Games, anyone?)

It’s no secret that CCP has had it’s ups and downs; it’s the same story for any game developer. We’ve seen everything from T20 to the Summer of Rage, to Somerblink, to the ESS. But we’ve also seen the additions of countless number of new (and recently rebalanced) ships, modules, gameplay mechanics, wormholes, weapon rebalances, incursions, graphic improvements, warp speed changes, Crimewatch, and the expansion of exploration. Along the way we’ve built empires, seen others fall, and developed the meta game into a fine art which continues to evolve. No, not everyone is going to stay. Veterans of the game will continue their ebb and flow of floating in and out of the game with their various alts. However, the essence of newly-found potential, open doors, and endless possibilities that brought us to Eve are the same as those just entering. The key difference is that when some of us were just starting the game, we didn’t have the resources and personalities of today – the same resources and personalities telling us that things are terrible and you should spend your money elsewhere these days.

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We have the opportunity to see a Renaissance period in Eve. The timing of these events, the swelling of new players, and the possibilities of what’s to come excite me. They also excite the new players. Literally THOUSANDS of people watched as Eve stole the spotlight again. Even more took the step to add themselves to our ranks soon after. Although I may just be optimistic by nature, I refuse to believe that the game I’ve loved and played for over seven years now is wasted. I don’t believe that the function of the CSM is to protect me from CCP. I don’t believe that we’ll never see another sudden jump in interest because of a press-worthy game event. Finally, I absolutely don’t believe that there’s nothing more to look forward to.

The question of whether or not the game will retain these new players is not just on CCP. I believe player involvement has just as much of a direct impact as that of the developer. If we do our parts and continue to drive content and interest for the game, dividends will follow. At best, we stand to gain more space drama, more content, and more conflict. At worst, if things should go south again like they did in the Summer of Rage, that just means there will be that many more players shooting statues. You’re free to chalk this up as either a positive or a negative if you want, but in my mind it’d be that much more of a glorious light show.

Like it or not, the reason why our community in Eve is different than any other game out there is because it’s a partnership between the developer and the players. CCP has done more to foster that foundation than any other in history. Partnership means sharing responsibility for when things go right, as well as when they go horribly wrong. Right now, things are going in the right direction. We should continue to look up and help build this game by knowing when it’s time to talk negatively about the past or appreciate our present…so we can look toward building a better game. Eve’s worth is more than the sum of its parts. The parts include everyone who participates as well as those who develop. For those who are just joining us and to those that are rediscovering New Eden…Welcome to Eve. You’ve arguably chosen the best time in our history to join us. Now go blow something up! 7o

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