Thursday, December 1, 2011
Changes in the University
There will, of course, be a couple of small criticisms, but then I'm not a University fanboy. I appreciate that they train newbs (they helped train me, although that isn't much of an advertisement for them). I appreciate that they help the new player retention rate. EVE Online needs new players; EVE University helps in this regard. I won't get into any of the carebear bloat and risk averse criticisms, because you've heard them all before, but maybe, just maybe, these new changes will go towards solving those problems over the long term.
Previous to a few months ago, to post corporation recruitment advertisements required an office in the region in which you were recruiting. That changed during the summer, either with Incarna or sometime shortly thereafter. A corporation can now recruit across New Eden freely. So, over the summer months, the University shutdown all of the offices it no longer needed. No point spending ISK on office rental if you don't need them.
The University is once again looking to open up remote corporate offices. But not for recruitment purposes. Darian Reymont refers to them as forward bases. The long and short of it? The University will open up remote offices in lowsec and NPC nullsec so that Unistas can set-up base in those areas, getting benefit from the use of corporate hangars. Ostensibly, the University could stock these remote corporate hangars with PvP ships, extending their ship replacement program to players interested in PvP beyond that of the usual blob roam (which are generally pretty boring and not all that instructive.)
This is a fantastic opportunity for the University to involve its student body in the type of PvP that is the norm in non-sovereignty space -- small gang and solo PvP. Players get to experience PvP for extended periods of time (days and weeks, versus hours), while still maintaining that all-important sense of community.
The Forward Base Program is likely another nail in the coffin of the Ivy League Navy (ILN) -- a division of the University that has been in a slow-decline since May 2011. The Forward Base Program is simply going to encourage dedicated and skilled PvPers to move away from Aldrat. PvP teaching is going to shift even further away from the ILN. This is of course a good thing, since PvP training, previously under the auspices of the ILN, generally revolved around blob warfare. Roams are a hit-or-miss affair, and infrequent at best. Forward bases will put more emphasis on PvP as a lifestyle, something the ILN lost when the battlegroups were disbanded. The ILN's only remaining role is that of a defender during wartime, and we all know the current state of the war declaration system. Without wardecs, the ILN is on its last legs.
Wartime Standard Operating Procedures (WSOP)
The University has recently rewritten their infamous WSOP. Rather than being the strict set of rules it has always been -- basically squirrelling away Unistas from the realities of EVE Online -- it has now been changed to be a set of guidelines. The WSOP is now the RSOP (Relaxed Standard Operating Procedures) of old. The new WSOP is a document to describe safe operations during wartime. It is a set of guidelines, suggestions. It is a teaching document rather than a shackle and a hindrance.
The WSOP only reverts from suggestions to a firm set of rules during travel advisories, which will only apply to certain constellations for short periods of time (in areas where the enemy is currently very active.)
Like forward bases, this change allows the University to embrace the nature of EVE Online, rather than try to hide from it. It will encourage new players to accept conflict as a vital part of the game. Conflict is not something any player should fear or shirk away from. This change will teach players that risk is manageable.
Which brings me to my one small criticism. Considering the University is now, effectively, impossible to wardec, making this WSOP change is almost moot. It sends the right message to the student body, for sure, but it's very easy to say "Hey everyone, you can now use your own best judgement during wartime" when there's small chance of ever being at war. I would wonder exactly how long this new and open WSOP would last if a proper war declaration system were to return to EVE Online.
Azmodeus Valar and Darian Reymont are working on programs to move veteran players out from under the sheltering wings of the University -- to push them out of the nest and into the game at large. The programs will also assist new players wanting to move on from the student's life. It will involve work fairs and opportunities for corporations to introduce themselves to the student body via Mumble. A lot of the initial work is being done with existing ex-Unista corporations and alliances (such as Sleeper Social Club, The Graduates, The Red Circle, and Shiva), but will eventually expand to any corporation looking to recruit from the University student body.
Sounds like a fantastic program. My concern is some crossed-wires between the University departments. For instance, Smoogle, the EVE University forum moderator, has been /dev/null'ing 0.0 discussion threads recently. Basically threads populated with ex-Unistas now with various alliances in nullsec. This seems the wrong tact to take here. Even if those 0.0 threads are mostly trollish and argumentative, that happens to be what 0.0 forum warfare is all about. There's no sense hiding Unistas from that reality. Hell, some Unistas may actually find that aspect of the meta-game interesting, and the existence of those threads may encourage new and veteran players to seek out nullsec as a new challenge and destination.
Some great and necessary changes happening in the University as of late. I like that the University is moving in the direction of accepting the core principles of EVE Online, rather than hiding from them. These new changes serve their student body far better, as well as serving our great game in better stead. Kudos to the directors and management responsible. Keep up the good work.