Tuesday, October 14, 2008

A Dark Day for a Veteran Player...

CCP has decided that they will no longer support the "Ghost Training" feature of EVE Online. 

Let me explain a bit further what it means, for those who might be coming after me into this wonderful game - and for those who will be searching for EVE history at some point in the future.

  • "What is Ghost Training?"

It used to be possible, until October 15th 2008 to finish training skills even if the account became disabled. As many of you know EVE is a demanding game, and even though the skills can be trained while the character is "offline," they still tend to take a good chunk of "real time." Some skills can take up to 45-60 days to train to Level 5.  

CCP Developers always touted this as one of their "major" features of the game itself; they always presented it as a sign of how "flexible" EVE really is, well, was. Just 24 hours ago CCP announced that they will not allow the "Ghost Training" and called it a "Bug." A "bug" that they themselves had in the "Skill Training Guide" for almost five years, a touted feature that attracted so many people to EVE.  

To make it a bit clearer, I am going to post what the Developers have told the community, three posts, and subsequently my sincere opinion on the matter:  

  • Player News Article:

A statement by CCP Fallout:
"Ghost Training To Be Removed"
Reported by CCP Fallout on 2008.10.13 15:59:54 

A long overdue and much needed change will be put in place with the Wednesday, 15 October 2008 patch. Ghost Training, the continuous skill gain on accounts in an inactive or expired state - will no longer function after Wednesday, 15 October 2008. This practice upsets the balance of the game, and capsuleers who actively put their time and energy into working on their characters will no longer be unfairly affected by those few who have not.

Please read Dev Blog for more information. 

  • Dev Blog In Its Entirety:

"Why Ghost Training Was Disabled"
Reported by CCP Torfifranse on 2008.10.13 23:17:25

As many of you know by now, on Wednesday, Oct 15th, CCP will put out a server update disabling "ghost training". Ghost Training was an unintended feature where unpaid accounts of EVE Online were able to continue training skills. While this allowed players to run multiple characters on a shoestring budget, in all effect, this was a bug.

It should be noted that we're not changing offline skill training for active subscribers in any way. This change only affects those who do not have an active subscription.

Does that mean that CCP is a greedy money chewing monster that just loves nerfing things? Of course not. We're a company like everyone else, we make a game, that we happen to love making and for most of us is the passion of our lives. But it's also a company. We make a product, sell it, get salaries and then continue maintaining the product and making it better. 

Now I'm not saying that if me personally would be at the other end of this Dev Blog I wouldn't be annoyed by CCP's actions. We are gamers. We game the system. We figure out how to maximize our returns. There's no surprise that people have done this for the simple fact that it wasn't banned per se and also for the fact that it was possible. But recently we have seen a surge in this behavior in a way that we were essentially supporting and maintaining a large number of customers that weren't paying us regular subscriptions. That's not fair towards CCP as a service provider and it's not fair towards other players that pay a subscription but don't make use of this bug. 

Now a single customer that doesn't log into the servers may not weigh heavily on our database infrastructure, just as a single snowflake isn't that heavy, hardly a measurable quantity. But it's hard not to notice an avalanche if it hits you. And that's what was starting to happen in our database. 

We can look at this from a variety of angles, but it all comes down to:

There was a way to progress a character in EVE without an active subscription

CCP noticed a surge in the trend and decided to fix the leak Players now have to pay a subscription for characters to have them progress. We truly hope that the community will understand our actions and continue to enjoy playing EVE as much as we enjoy making it.

Torfi Frans Olafsson

Senior Producer of EVE Online. 

  • And, finally, the back-pedaling:

Posted on by CCP T0rfifrans on 14/10/2008 23:18:00
“The bug that became a feature” 

On Monday, we released news that we are disabling “Ghost Training”, the ability to train characters on inactive accounts. This resulted in strong reactions from the community as many people were routinely making use of it. We explained the matter in more detail and pointed out that this had been a bug in the original game code. Those of us who were involved in the process of making the decision and communicating it to the community did not realize this bug had been so accepted as a feature that it was listed as such in our own documentation on our own website.  

How can we not know what‘s in our own documentation? Well, to be frank, it was a case of insufficient communication on our part between various teams – a regrettable mistake and hard lesson to learn at the expense of the trust you‘ve placed in us. There‘s no way to spin it and we won‘t add insult to injury by trying to do so. It was a mistake on our part and for that we sincerely and humbly apologize. 

Many would hope that in light of this we will decide not to cancel ghost training and keep it active as an option but we‘re cannot to do that. EVE is already one-of-a-kind in allowing players to progress their characters through offline skill training. We stand by our policy that if you want your character to progress in EVE, you should pay the subscription fee. The fact that so many people have been able to do so for several years was our own oversight. We know this change, and our misstep in telling you about it, has created some discontent and we hope that over time we can prove our commitments to make EVE better than ever for you will be evident as you enjoy the fruits of our labor.


  • And now, my humble opinion and response to this fiasco:

I am sorry Torfi, but this is damage control, pure and simple, and do not think for a second that most of us do not see through it.

What your superiors have done is taken away a feature that was a major selling point for many people.

EVE is an addicting game, and a major hobby for the most of us. Because CCP has encouraged dual-boxing, and dual-accounting, for so many years it has become a major part of the game. After a while EVE will have an effect on a player where we simply have to take a break, and having the so-called "ghost training" was one bright spot - we could set that "special" skill that we did not quite get to, and walk away for a month, knowing full-well that when we come back we will have another avenue to explore within the game world.

It was exciting, and nice to know that you as company pretty much understood us, the adult players, with families, jobs, army service, business trips and mortgages, and car payments. It was very nice to know that despite being bogged down by real life there was a small pleasure to come back to when I hit that "reactivate account" button.

You have taken it away because you want money, pure and simple. And, in short term, it will bring you more money - in the long term, all those short attention span kids with daddy's and mommy’s credit cards will go away, and you would have most likely have lost your core gamers, the ones who stuck with you through 5 years, and would have probably stayed for longer still.

I know, I am sounding like a broken violin, but I am so very much disappointed, ever since Oveur and others have left CCP you guys act and deal with us, loyal players like strangers. I have always felt more like family with the other guys, what happened guys? What are you doing? Is EVE not important anymore?  I guess things change.

I never said "I would cancel my bazillion accounts", I only have two, but I am seriously thinking of consolidating into one, and just seeing how it goes, and where you guys will take us next. I am an adult, and I will deal with it like an adult, no whines from me, just wanted to let you know how deeply I am disappointed in what you have done.

Jinx Barker, a Loyal CCP Customer for the last 5 years.