Saturday, January 19, 2013

Controlled Burns

[TL;DR: This is a ramble about ideas and counter arguments and nothing of substance happens.  The end.]

It has been a busy week with CCP announcing the future, their expansion focuses, and the players forming a thrednought due to some poorly stated communication regarding Player Owned Starbases.  Not everyone has raged negatively.  Many have approached the problem as productively as they can.  If we are to ask CCP to give us old stuff we must figure out how to wrap that into CCP's stated future plans.

A natural rebound effect of proffered creativity has poured forth.  I wonder how much of these gleaming gems CCP collects or if the ‘what shall we do’ question is just too wet the appetite of the player while the meal has already been decided.  Many players are creative and chimed in with ‘what I’d like’ can create a positive ocean of ideas.

In reading others and having my own, I find that the hardest part of the balance is how not to shake the principle sandbox aspect of the game.  Chirality had an idea that had an apocalyptic feeling to it and involved people having to run and flee something dark and bad that was woken up.  Recently, Cheradenine wrote a future he saw as awesome that also was about the end of days and the fight for survival.

I was kinda chatting with Chirality about it and said I'd write a response.  I present a long babbling look into why I don't think destroying Eve to rebuild Eve would be fun.  I'll, later, have to write something for him to pick apart.  Fairs fair and all.

If Eve was invaded by something and everything changed and suddenly I was forced into an epic battle of survival for the very basics of my existence would I look forward to fighting in the ruins of everything that I have and rebuilding into something different and hopefully successful from scratch?  No.

I personally don’t like the end of days themes.  I'm a builder and a creative type.  I like to take from what I have and make things.   I have enough stress jumping the gate into the next system.  I'm shocked I'm not a shut in.  When an incursion comes into low sec its irritating as hell.  It involves avoidance, moving out of the area and not particularly ‘fun’.  Even if I wanted to fight it, for some reason, my natural state in the game makes that nearly impossible due to a lack of numbers.  A mechanic that is geared towards numbers is not kind to the average denizen of low security space which is notorious for its small corps and smaller gangs.

The key idea is forced.  I can decide to participate, such as with faction warfare, sov warfare, wormhole life or even going back to high sec. I have options to leave as well.  If the entire game was swamped in a massive incursion and the only way to solve it was for the entire player base to turn and fight the game force I’d be rather disenchanted.  I understand how it can be gripping game play but I find the heart and soul of my interactions the things that happen because of the other players.  I have nothing against immersive NPC based stories. I'd simply like to chose not to participate.

I know that many people want more substance from the game world.  Some crave more.  I once had a discussion with someone about the lack of unique NPCs.  I forgot what he played (I suspect WoW) but he spoke of weeks waiting for, looking for, watching for special NPCs with special goodies and how that improved the game for him.  I, would have lost attention to the task within minutes of it starting.  I am that person that skims the quest/mission in an MMO and runs off to find people to play with.  Where is that balance?


Empire in Eve is a civilization.  It is a very old very stable civilization with fantastic technology. It is not in a state of decay but is in fact rather healthy if prone to its own issues as any group is.  Beyond the empire is the non stable aura of low sec.  The rules are ragged and stripped of most of their power.  Past that is Null Sec, the established Frontier or land of the Fiefs.  Wormholes are their own space, areas that people have said ‘Today I go to see what is there’ and entered.  A land of exploration and differences from day to day life.

A lot of Eve is about living the daily life.  We get supplies, fit ships, clean out areas, build things, manage planets, manage POS, manage the market.  All of these things are daily life aspects to what we do.  For some they will tire of it and seek more.  I think that more should be there for them to seek but at the same time there is a status quo to maintain.  If Eve, the entire universe, all the factions and everything were over taken and over run by an apocalyptic fate some players would absolutely love it and others would be beyond irritated at the loss of their Market.

And both sides matter.  Enjoyment does not equal excitement for everyone.

That creates a narrow point of entry where both sides need to be catered to.  The adding of content without the removal of content.  Content can be altered but the alteration is tricky not to unbalance it in one direction or another.  Too much of the player base likes to be left alone.  From the CSM minutes:
"Soundwave clarified that he doesn’t mind people being bothered by it, because no EVE player has the right to be shut off from the rest  of the world. He sees bounty hunting as something that’s impacting players playing EVE as a single player game in a way nothing they tried before, and was glad they were interacting with the community whether negatively or positively. He suspected most people complaining were annoyed because they were not used to being able to be “poked” by other players."

Now, one can affect players a bit. Bounty hunting is a good sign of this. People have reacted to just a flag that does not change anything in their game but their avatar icon under one view option.  Let me go back to incursions.  They irritate me but it is small enough that the adjustments I have to make are doable without rage.  Instead I sigh and have something to blog about and bitch about in my chats.  I’m bothered but not to a point I could even qualify as unreasonable or irritating.

For example:

A system without a station.  What is more irritating is a station in a system with no repair facilities when I’m in armor and hull.  Then, let's say I’m camped in by the group that put me into a structurally damaged state.  My options at that point are to log out.  We don’t want to create logout options by placing people under siege who do not want to be under siege because they did not sign up for Eve Under Siege Online.  They signed up to mine and make spaceships.  They are players to and must be considered.  War Decs already do this and War Decs kill some corps.  If CCP is seeking to hold onto people in that delicate in between point where they accept logging out as an option and not as an end to their game they will need to have another option.  Right now, it is NPC corps.  If Eve was under an apocalyptic siege what would their escape be?

To go back to the apocalypse themes: I've stated that I dislike them.  I've gone over various problems I have with them.  But, just because I want and I dislike is not a measure for me to judge an idea without looking beyond my personal opinion.  If such a thing had enough momentum and interest to become something in motion I'd like to see it, instead, focus on a slice of Eve.   

Here I agree with Chirality because it is contained. A slice a players can or cannot choose to deal with.  A slice large enough for everyone to feel the aftershock of but not find themselves sucked into the center.  This is where the power of Lore steps in.

It is easy to think on a vast, galactic scale.  But none of us are vast, galactic beings.  Also, we have the simple reality of time, game designers and human restrictions.  Eve is enormous.  Instead of the entire game one could easily effect something like a single faction.

I will select the Sisters of Eve.  Affect a faction that has importance but not so much importance that twisting its concepts will be more then irritants to those who choose not to participate.  Players need to be able to escape as well as embrace a change in a game such as Eve.  With an important enough faction people will feel the ripple effect no matter how much they attempt to avoid it.  But, at the same time it is something that has a low chance of destroying their game.

Another disinterest an apocalyptic theme has for me is that it takes the players and thrusts them into the role of the savior.  I don’t want to be anyone's savior.  I often play dark and evil races for a reason.  Savior has no appeal to me.   It does have appeal to others.  I simply want to be able to not participate.  The solution is not to give me a chance to be ‘evil’. I like being neutral.  I don’t want to be on either side of the conflict.

That means my ideas are inclusive in nature and flexible in type.  This actually makes them super hard because they have to be interesting in many ways to achieve the goal of maximum player interest.  I'm also terrible with ideas because I am prone to thinking of building themes and not destructive ones and Eve's players do like their destruction.

If I could pick any communal cry of want I'd again agree with Chirality in the fact that people want more new space.  They want that space to have its own thing to it.  It is not about expanding what is here it is about moar of what is there.  We are in space and we run around in circles in it.  Even though we argue about the inherent empty nature of much of space now... well... space is big and space is going to be empty.  Being empty is not a symptom of a problem in many places.  People do not congregate in even numbers across an area.  Population density is never going to be evenly spread.

The introduction of more space allows people to pick and choose to enter, allows an entirely new rule set to be created for it (as long as it is not 100% safe utopia please) and because of the trickle effect of Eve its aspects will flow back to affect everyone.  How many Tengu are in High Sec and belong to people who have never entered a wormhole?

Anyway, this has been a long babble and I'm done.  Fried and I ran across some fun ideas about houses in chat the other night that I'll have to write up later.

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