Friday, December 20, 2013

What Type of Player Comes Calling?

What does it take to play Eve Online? Or, perhaps, it should be what does it take for a person to enjoy the gameplay of Eve Online?

Last night, I was watching a new player ranting in Eve Newbie chat. He had died in a rookie mission, one of the ones that tells you you will die. He turned in the mission and now could not get back to his wreck. His wreck, of course, had everything he had accumulated this far.

Now, this is a common series of mistakes. Loading all the things into the spaceship makes sense because the ship is your avatar and normally you carry everything with you. After all, you die and just reload or run back from your spawn point and pick it up. Only, he learned it doesn't work that way in Eve. Because he turned in hte mission and does not yet know about bookmarks he is short of luck. "But I have no stuff!" he wailed. Everyone explained that Eve automatically gives you a rookie ship and he can do his mission in that. They told him that he has to read the mission guides for the tutorial missions and someone even sent him enough ISK to buy another Rifter.

He was still mad. Can he skip the tutorials? People tell him to do the tutorials and read them completely and that they will tell him that he was going to lose his stuff and not to risk it. Suddenly, the entire game was sexually attracted to its same gender, it had a limp, and he was going back to League of Legions because this was terrible. He was told, rather politely for Eve, "Good luck, have fun." I didn't try to convince him to stay. When after help and explanations he guidance one can only rage, Eve may not be for them.

But it made me think, what does it take to stay? He said he liked the game. I believe that he did. He liked it until he died and lost his stuff. When stuff retriever turned out not to be a minor inconvenience but a solid loss the game was terrible. There were recovery options but they were not acceptable. Damn the game, damn it.

Is it the player or the game? In some games it is the game.  Most of the time it is the player. I pondered his ranting and raging for a moment and compared it to situation in my own out of Eve game play.

My husband is a gamer. He is not a hardcore gamer but he is a completionist. Not an achievement completionist. He likes a game with a lot of story and he will play the game over and over to get all of the storyline out of it. He plays Skyrim and Fallout to the point that Bathesda's content creators would burst into tears of gratitude for it. He does not play Eve.

Both of us are currently playing Minecraft. Let me explain what happened last night.

My husband has decided to move away from our little village a bit. On the way exploring he found sand for me. I need the sand for what I am building. He collected the sand, got lost, and died when he fell down a hole. He got very upset. He respawned and immediately ran back to his stuff and almost make it back. Frustrated at being lost, the night time, zombies, and the terrain he started to rush with only a small amount of health. He wound up falling off a cliff and dying again. At this point he was super mad and frustrated at the game and how dying like that and the frustration and planning of nighttime took fun out of the game for him.

Frustrated at him being frustrated, I went to my house, harvested my grain, went to the rookie house we have set up, harvested that field, made myself some iron weapons, emptied my inventory, loaded up on food, checked the coordinates and headed out. On the way there I coordinated with everyone on the server to sleep through the night cycle to maximize my travel time, and eating to keep energy up made a full sprint to him.

We found his stuff. I then did recon back to base, coordinated with the other players to push the night cycle again, and we got back home with minimal losses. The entire situation was, to me, an example of why I am an Eve player.While I don't like to lose things, planning and tactics are part of the game play to me. My husband bolted naked into the forest enjoying the block landscape. He wants to play the game not fight with it. Survival is not the easiest play style and watching his frustration as he loses stuff and his frustration that things happen (such as getting pushed into a lava pit by a Spider because he was up at night because he felt he could handle anything attacking him) has been an eyeopener. I take that same situation feel frustrated and just slog back at it. He doesn't like the slog. I find the constant battle to keep what I have gathered fascinating.



What draws us to Eve and others away from it? There is obviously something that we get out of Eve due to personality. It is something that we can show another person but they must have in themselves. As I was relaying the above adventure in chat Vov says, "He'd hate me." And yes, he would. Vov is a griefer and comfortable in that position. My husband would hate being ganked  because he would only want to enjoy Eve the game and not Eve the MMO.

How often do we hear that line? "I just wanted to play" people say. Well, they are in an MMO and you cannot make that decision for them. Yet, the people who are still out there, playing, even as they bitch and whine about griefers, have at least some of the core personality needed to play in Eve successfully. In there is enjoyment from challenge and acceptance of loss.  Pixelsthe game may be but the time and energy put into interacting with those pixels are valuable.

In some ways a stressful game for relaxation does not make a lot of sense. But, that is how some of us enjoy our so called 'down time' although it is better defined as personal time. It is the time that we seek engagement and mental fufillment. My boss commented the other day that you cannot train people to multitask at a high level of awareness and expect them to happily sit quiet and unstimulated until you are ready for them. We tend to seek out what will engage us. For some of us, it is a game of more complex survival. Such is the reason for the enjoyment of DayZ even in pure Alpha.

15 comments:

  1. I'm awake right now and reading this because I just finished grinding down a customs office. It is a horse with a broken leg, but I understand why it has to be done. I don't, however, understand why this should happen to a guy during the beginning tutorials.

    Thankfully I have never done the tutorials, but can I assume that at the point where,
    "He turned in the mission and now could not get back to his wreck." the tutorial has not gone over making bookmarks? Or even if it has, why did the game not make him bookmark his wreck?

    To me, this case isn't about survival or even loss, it is about bad instructions. Eve is a product and the worst thing you can do is give bad or no instructions with a new product. People will assume their frustration is the products fault. If this guy could have gotten half his loot, maybe he could have blamed himself for not reading the mission, but instead EVE kicks him when he's down right from the start. I get that we are getting into how learning is painful and most people don't have a tolerance for that pain, but maybe they could spread the sting out a little more?

    I completely agree with Jester's "So I'm going to continue to advocate for a simpler, easier-to-teach, easier-to-learn new player experience, and I'm going to continue to advocate for CCP to try to sell the game that's making them successful."

    Wouldn't you like it if your husband played EVE? I'd like it if ANY of my friends could stand this game, but it's "the game for people who like spreadsheets".

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    1. It is a series if good points. Retention is an important issue and sometimes something has to happen to remind us of what may be glaring holes in the early game play.

      I disagree that it is a game for people who like spreadsheets. I do think that it is a game that those with that leaning can enjoy.

      And I am happy to have some alone time in a game. Even with more explained Eve's base mechanics of loss and having to reewrn and replace does not appeal to him.

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    2. He got clear instruction that the mission is SUICIDE and his ship (that he got from the mission agent for free) is going to explode!

      If he put stuff into it, he is dumb.

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    3. I also disagree that it is a game for people who like spreadsheets. This is just one of the negative comments my girlfriend read while thinking about trying EVE. My question about would you like your husband to play, was more about my own situation. I could keep myself and my girlfriend in cruisers for RvBing and she would never have to really earn or lose anything, except she doesn't find the combat itself interesting and sees the rest as "spreadsheets" (To me the combat holds up regardless of the loss involved). She does enjoy DUST, but the connection between EVE and DUST is small and limited.

      Yes, Gevlon, he was dumb, as you are sometimes, as are we all. My point is the during the tutorials the game should protect you from your stupidity. It should do things like say," Hey dummy, bookmark this." or "Hey dummy, you have cargo in a ship that is going to explode, take it out." or "Hey dummy, you moved into a wormhole system and started PI before replacing all the custom offices with your own POCOs, fix it." Not sure if the last one should be in the tutorial.

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    4. The point is not that his ship died. Think about any other MMO (this shouldn't be hard for Gevlon, WoW veteran that he is): Sure, you die, and all your stuff drops with your body, but the area you're in doesn't despawn, taking your body with it. He didn't know, because nobody told him, that all he had to do was not turn in the mission, dock to get a rookie ship, go back to his wreck and grab his stuff.

      It's not the fact of loss, it's the utterly arbitrary nature of the loss. It's one thing to lose your ship. It's usually pretty obvious why you lose a ship, right? But nothing anywhere makes it obvious that when you turn in a mission, the whole thing despawns along with any ship wreck of yours--unless you bookmark a wreck, which is also not documented anywhere in the tutorial.

      He was not raging about loss. He was raging about terrible design. I know that raging doesn't get you a lot of sympathy in EVE, but he still has a point.

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  2. This does highlight one big difference between EvE and every other MMO I've ever played, and that is the permanence of loss. I knew about it before I'd downloaded the client because I researched the game and picked the brains of friends that played it. Unfortunately, the vast majority of MMOs out there follow a certain pattern/mechanic where you can't really lose any gear and nothing really has consequences. New players come to EvE expecting the normal state and are shocked when EvE isn't normal.

    I do the tutorials whenever I create a new alt, because I'm a bit of a cheap bastard and just can't get over giving up those ships and books and isk the career agents give you :). If a new player actually reads the tutorial text, he should pick out rather quickly that this game is more serious than the others he's played. CCP splashes warning all over the tutorials, including the one where you're supposed to go out and die - they even give you a frigate just for the purpose and there's a lot of red warning text informing a player that they really should heed the instructions.

    CCP can only do so much to lead horses to water, but if they don't drink...

    I am starting to wonder though, if what's needed is something like a big, bold, non-subtle statement that pops up at the start of every tutorial mission/info tip that EvE is not like other games and that you can lose your gear permanently. Maybe that might have saved this player, or maybe not.

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  3. I don't know. In some respects I'm a bit like your husband. I get angry, I seethe internally, and sometimes I'll walk away. But I always come back. The anger is motivation, and the walk away time is me figuring out what I did wrong. I'll hit a problem again and again wasting billions of isk while my corp mates look on in amused horror at the waste till I solve a problem they don't even think exists to anyone but me. And more than likely it does only exist in my mind. But that's Eve, and gaming in general to me. I don't play for the anger bit, I play for the elation of when I've finally solved a puzzle. Eve just has a never ending string of puzzles.

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  4. If CCP could figure out how to market to our personality types, instead of generically to gamers, then they'd probably find it a lot easier to get new customers. 3 weeks into Eve I was mining in my Venture in a safe 0.8 system.. then it exploded to a a ganker in a thrasher. He got my pod with my genolution implants too. That was the first great thing to happen to me in Eve. I literally though, "That sucks, but what a f****ing awesome game!!!" I am still playing almost a year later (much longer than I'd played any MMO before).

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  5. I agree with Kaeda; excellent post, Ms. Kyle!
    You brought out some really cool insights regarding some of the different personalities that play online games and their expectations. Your division of EVE the game and EVE the MMO was something I had never considered.

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    1. "Your division of EVE the game and EVE the MMO was something I had never considered."
      That's because it is a false division, created by a certain group of people who only play in a certain style, utilizing only certain features, and who by and large almost exclusively live in a certain generic area of the game's systems ... apparently their number is 66.6% of the game's population. Or so I'm told, by these same players, of course.
      Those players wholeheartedly believe that they should be able to wall-off their lil corner of the sandbox, interacting with it in only limited ways, and of course completely on their terms, not the rest of the playerbase's. They only want to "experience the game", without the ebil, horrible interference of the rest of the players in it.
      To them, "EVE the Game" is most certainly separable from "EVE the MMO", it is in fact an argument that they make every chance they get, about the remaining features of the game that they don't utilize and most desperately wish were never utilized against them.

      Sugar is most definitely not one of those people, as she lives outside their "area" in-game, and participates in those "undesirable" activities, utilizing those "unwanted" features. She is, however, writing about that exact same group's mindset, whether she addresses it directly to them, or not. ;-)

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    2. I find it amusing how consistently 'it's a sandbox' is followed by 'and X is playing in it the wrong way'. ;)

      'Sandbox' means that by definition anything you can do within the game mechanics is playing 'right' - even running off into your own little corner and trying to build sandcastles all on your lonesome. It's a rather foolhardy (and most likely frustrating) choice, of course, since the game mechanics are balanced to make that fairly difficult ... but it's still just as valid as the playstyle of all those evil PvPers.

      Demanding that the game be changed to protect your castles is a completely different matter, of course, and I suspect that that's what you mean to criticise. It's unfair to try to pin that solely on the highsec contingent, though; selfish, game-breaking demands designed to benefit your own private style of playing are universal among EVE players from any area of space.

      As for 'EVE the game' and 'EVE the MMO', they're two theoretically separable components that CCP has decreed you can only ever get as a package deal. There is nothing in the mechanics that would prevent a single-player version of 'EVE the game' from being made; although there are a number of things that would be either boring or hellishly difficult/labour-intensive to do single-handed.

      Say that separating 'EVE the game' and 'EVE the MMO' is a really bad idea and it is something that CCP will (and should) never, ever do, and I'll agree with you whole-heartedly. Saying it's impossible, I consider careless phrasing at best and dishonesty at worst.

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  6. What? He didn't read the mission brief, and lost his vessel in a clearly marked suicide mission? Haha, what an idiot... who does that!

    Certainly not me!

    I didn't lose my first fully fit combat frigate that way!

    And I certainly didn't have named weaponry on it, because I thought I was clever, and could do the mission faster...

    ... and have a hold full of skill books, because I didn't know how to plug them in yet...

    Ahem.

    *walks off quietly*

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  7. @ Sugar Kyle
    I am interested to know how your husband approaches real life? Does he rush in and just do things or does he plan for things. Or maybe he does plan and sees games differently? :)

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  8. I think most people quit Eve after a short while because they are overwhelmed by the unknown/partially known concepts they encounter every time they undock. I am a newbie that started a couple of months back, after a friend showed me the game. After the tutorial I've tried exploration, found it boring (scary when going into low sec/wormholes and too easy in null sec and high sec), and then I've decided to try faction warfare, where I've encountered concepts like warp core stabilizers, links (OMG! I am pointed at 30 km and can't seem to approach the person pointing me how is that possible?), faction/T2 ships (How would a single Dramiel frigate kills 2 frigates and 1 destroyer). And no amount of reading about these concepts will help the new player when he first encounters them because he doesn't understand the “metrics” of the game or how things equate in Eve but he learns pretty fast about 2 of the “greatest” metrics in Eve: wallet size (until he becomes self-sufficient within the allotted time for the game which takes various amounts of time based on the desired path) and SP count (which for a new player is the most overwhelming).

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