I was chatting with an in-game buddy the other day, and asked him what he thought of the new Crucible expansion.
He replied: "It's like great ex-sex. It makes you feel good, but one good night doesn't mean you're going to get back together. But a few more like it might change your mind."
And in his own (admittedly somewhat perverted) way, I think he encapsulated what a lot of long-time players are thinking.
Crucible was great ex-sex. It reminded us of what the relationship between CCP and the players used to be, and what it could be again. But, having been burned, before the bittervets are going to open their vulnerable hearts and once again declare undying love for CCP, they're going to want more like it.
When CCP decided in late August to scrap their planning for the winter expansion and refocus on EVE, they didn't have time to come up with something "big". So they concentrated on lots of little things, fixing old stuff, and making small improvements here and there. Because each individual item was small, they were able to implement a lot of them -- that's why the Crucible patch notes were the longest in recent memory.
But now CCP is starting to plan for the first half of 2012, and with a longer planning horizon, the "old" CCP would be tempted to do something more ambitious for the June expansion.
I strongly believe this would be a serious mistake. It would be a signal that CCP is not serious about their change in direction, that Crucible was just a bump in the road.
Rather, what I (and others on the CSM) will continue to recommend at the Summit next week is that CCP should continue doing what they started with Crucible; continue revising and improving older features of the game. However, given that they now have a longer planning horizon, they should consider going after a mix of both "little things" and bigger targets.
Some examples of bigger targets might be a package of little tweaks aimed at revitalizing factional warfare, and a similar package aimed at addressing some of the current issues with nullsec sov warfare.
On a bigger scale, there is the much-beloved Dead Horse POS proposal -- and improvements to Industry that would be associated with that. Whether something of this scale is possible for the next expansion will become more clear in the coming weeks. I'd love to see it, but to be honest, if I had to choose between that and lots of little things, I'd have to go for the little things every time.
Bottom line: if CCP wants to get back together with their ex-players, they need to deliver more great ex-sex.