a thing a little while ago that talked about the fallacies of carebearing up the game. And one can't talk about carebearing up EVE Online without talking about PvE.
That, of course, got a lot of people talking about the future direction of PvE in EVE Online. Whether CCP should invest a bunch of resources improving it, or whether it should be left as is, or small changes that could be made here and there that wouldn't upset the apple cart of balance in the game.
(The tl;dr is below, in bold lettering. One sentence.)
This short little treatise is going to remove industry-related PvE (mining, research and manufacturing, trading, planetary interaction) from the discussion. These areas of PvE are very much necessary to the survival of EVE's ecosystem, most, if not all of them, need overhauls to increase the attractiveness of their gameplay.
I'm going to focus, instead, on mission-related PvE. This includes missions, incursions, epic mission arcs, COSMOS constellations, ratting, and deadspace complexes. The reason why this is going to be a very short thesis is that I don't think any of them (with the exception of epic mission arcs and COSMOS constellations) need any resources thrown at them. They are mostly fine as is, and serve their purpose well.
First, concerning missions, incursions, ratting, and deadspace. Why are they fine as is? What purpose do I think they serve? All of these serve as short distractions and diversions away from the main theme of the game, the main theme being the creation of content by the players.
With respect to EVE Online, CCP shouldn't be in the content creating business, their focus should be on the tools creating business. CCP gives us the tools, so that we may create. What content CCP does create for EVE Online (and they should create some, though it should never be their development focus) should not overshadow what the players create for themselves. Missions, incursions, deadspace, these are things players do on the side, something to pass some time, a way to earn some ISK for other areas of gameplay. These areas of the game currently serve their purpose, so the only necessary improvements (if there are any) would be minimal tweaks and fixes. No overhauls required.
Epic mission arcs and COSMOS constellations offer something different to EVE Online. They offer story, they offer depth to the New Eden universe, they immerse players deeper into the game world. Story is one area of EVE Online that CCP can expand upon, or at least iterate upon with every expansion, without it requiring much more than a person or two worth of resources (not including testing.)
I'm not suggesting any overhauls to the epic mission arc or COSMOS engines. Not at all. What I'm suggesting is far simpler, yet perhaps more effective. With every EVE Online expansion, a new epic mission arc or COSMOS constellation is introduced. With the introduction comes a continuing storyline for New Eden. This can work into much grander schemes down the road. If CCP has something planned for the Jovians (or Jovian space) four expansions from now, then the story-driven mission arcs in the three expansions leading up to that revelation could build player excitement and anticipation, to a crescendo.
Being COSMOS constellations and epic mission arcs, they do not become anything other than a short-term diversionary focus from the rest of the game, but their importance goes well beyond just the short diversion.
I'm not quite sure how CCP builds their epic mission arcs, but if they use something like LUA, then the resources to create a new arc (or COSMOS site) over a six month period wouldn't require much more than CCP Goliath himself. Resources would be minimal for something that would likely be well-received and would have a big impact each expansion.
More story doesn't hurt.