On Tuesday, 17 October, 2017, as the world celebrated Spreadsheet Day (https://www.daysoftheyear.com/days/spreadsheet-day/), commemorating the day that VisiCalc, the first spreadsheet program for personal computers, was released in 1979, EVE Online players waited anxiously for CCP to announce an event in acknowledgement of this important holiday. Sadly, CCP, having quietly abandoned their long-time tagline “We create spreadsheets in space” for the trendy, but less distinctive “We create virtual worlds,” again failed to commemorate this day, disappointing players across the globe.
Long acknowledged as essential to EVE Online, spreadsheets play a critical role in all aspects of the game, the memeverse, and the community. CCP Quant’s Monthly Economic Report, consisting entirely of hyper-nerdy statistics, charts, and supporting spreadsheet data, is one of the community’s most anticipated updates, and frequently generates a greater response than graphics update announcements.
The EVE Online client user interface—which consists largely of linked spreadsheets under a thin veneer of space graphics—performs poorly under load. Many players choose to enjoy EVE Online in “Potato Mode”, with minimal graphical elements, particularly in large engagements. A growing minority is now calling for an option to set graphic quality to “Spreadsheet Mode,” a step below “Potato Mode,” which would display the underlying spreadsheet only, without distracting user interface elements. This request has thus far gone unheeded, despite the fact that critics have, on more than one occasion, described EVE Online as “Excel with a texture pack”; a distinction boasted by no other game in recorded history.
A consortium of traders, industrialists, and theory crafters such as Roedyn, “No-Longer-Fuzzy” Steve Ronuken, delonewolf, Suitonia, Rykki, and Jin’taan, hint that serious repercussions might follow if CCP Games again overlooks this holiday when planning the YC 120 event calendar. “We’re not suggesting we would coordinate the launch of a ‘Fall of Nerd Rage’,” alluding to the post-Incarna Summer of Rage spurred by micro-transactions perceived as abusive, “but neither are we suggesting we would not,” spreadsheet-fanatics hinted darkly. “Spreadsheets are an integral part of our play-style and culture, and refusing to acknowledge this day, so important to our subculture, hints at disenfranchisement at best, and outright discrimination at the worst.”
Leaders of the movement pressing CCP Games to recognize this important cultural event emphasized that their movement will not quietly accept only an annual event, but also expects ongoing engagement with their community. They initially suggest a multi-pronged approach beyond an annual event, emphasizing the importance of addressing each of the three major factions: traders, industrialists, and theory crafters.
- Traders requested the option to view trade hub data directly in an in-game spreadsheet with support for simple formulas and lookups. “We should not have to rely upon third party out-of-game tools to trade in New Eden,” a representative suggested. “The market orders and history data are already available to tech-savvy traders via web services, but I’m a trader, not a technologist.”
- Industrialists expressed excitement about the upcoming Mining Ledger. “This is a wonderful step in the right direction,” they exclaimed, “we just have to make sure it isn’t the only step.” Possible next steps include requesting that The Agency present invention and manufacturing objectives, in addition to mining objectives, and that CCP displays them in-game as color-coded spreadsheets.
- Theory Crafters, although appreciative of the in-game Fitting Simulator, and the fact that upcoming releases include basic information on NPC damage types, also look for CCP to take the next step. “We would like to see exact information on enemy ship capabilities, even if this is gated by some skill or module. Some acceptable next steps would be to expand the functionality of ship scanners to provide a more detailed analysis of target capabilities, and provide an option to display this information in an in-game spreadsheet.”
All three stakeholders express that the in-game notes feature demands to be extended to support an in-game repository of spreadsheets, to facilitate advanced gameplay within the game, rather than relegating the most enjoyable portions of their gameplay experience to out-of-game tools.
Will CCP Games step up to the challenge, acknowledge Spreadsheet Day, and give this segment of their community the recognition and support they deserve? Only time will tell.
CCP representatives were unavailable for comment as of press date.