Often times trying to explain Eve to someone starts to shatter into a dozen shards of tangical explanations and definitions. “I shoot other spaceships” is easy enough to say. “I build capital ships,” is easy to understand but at the same time, because of fairness and an understanding of Eve one adds, “but it’s not the same as just building other things.” “I trade on the market,” makes people raise an eyebrow and then one quickly explains why it is interesting, complex, and fun.
But it is not "I push button and I receive fun."
Let me step back to “I shoot spaceships”. That it is easy to understand but saying it in such a simple way is dishonest to the listener when discussing Eve. I do shoot spaceships but it takes a moment for it to happen. I have to stalk said spaceship or find them, I may run away from them or call for help, I may be called to assist with that spaceship or die trying to kill it. I may have to jump several systems to pick up a proper ship and race back. While doing that I may be jumped on another gate or frantically attempting to write a contract o another corpmate to help them reship. Perhaps the batphone is going of because a carrier is tackled and the DPS is not in the area. While doing these things another fleet comes through and evasive actions may happen. A rescue fleet may arrive. Shooting the spaceship turns into a full retreat as ships are caught on the gate and fights break out o free corp members. In the end maybe no one dies and everyone had an amazing time. Maybe everyone burns in a fire and high fives are still had around the table for a good effort.
The players that most enjoy the game enjoy the pay off and not the immediate need. My thoughts were summoned by reading a reddit thread about someone that enjoyed Eve but found the mechanics to be boring. As he described the things he did and why he found them boring I saw that his view of the game was two dimensional. Others pointed that out. From the layering of social interaction to the fact that the pay off for actions is what mattered.
Eve rewards at the end of a series of actions. Sure, there are places with some immediate gratification. Most of the time, however, that gratification lays at the end of a long path. When cooking, there may be pleasure in the making of the food but the pay off is the finished dish. It may take minutes, hours, or days to create the end result. That result is consumed quickly. Yet, when done properly and well that short time of consumption is the reward for the effort to that point.
When looking at players and who stays and who enjoys Eve there is an undercurrent of similar sentiments It is not just that Eve is hard and that Eve is complex. It is also that Eve takes time to reward people. That hump for the first true reward, often the culmination of personal planning is perhaps one of the hardest things for a person to reach. We have not been conditioned for it. We have certainly not been conditioned for it in our personal recreation. This is where we lose the most people. Some will make the leap, some will make it with help, and some will never even see the goal to know to reach for it.
Yet, the player base seems to thrive off of it. At one time we would have been found painting our own figurines or building our own dungeons for games. Now we play games where we constantly look to create an event to receive our own reward from. We celebrate not just in the reward but in the complexity of the actions that created the reward. That is why building an Orca was more rewarding then buying an Orca even when I had earned the ISK. It is not that buying the Orca would not have been rewarding. It is that building the Orca was more rewarding. That enhanced taste of more becomes the draw.
That is a personality quirk that many of the players of the game seem to share. Frustration is naught but fuel to push forward the desire. I find myself riding a warm wave of satisfaction at a successful character sale. A sale that was five months in the making. Five months to receive my reward. Yet it makes it so delicious. It is more satisfying then "push button receive item". Even the "push button receive item" things developed have been created by players who have the satisfaction of watching what they have made function.
Would RvB be as satisfying if it was provided by CCP as a game feature? Could it be a game feature? If one removed the interactions of the corporations, the rules, the trolling, the times when it is purple, would it be the same? I don't think it could be. Even if the mechanics were mimicked the people that made it and the ones that run it are what make it magical.
A lot of time is spent thinking and defining the players. The what and the why that draws us to the game and keeps us to the game. It is part of the equation CCP is trying to solve. The one that has given them a successful game balanced with the desire to grow the game. The magic of their own formula is a bit elusive but it seems clear to me, from any side, that it is contained within their players.
I read a reddit post this morning that the author later deleted. It had some points on it that started me writing. Even deleted the internet does not forget. If anyone wishes to read the original post it is here. I will add that what I saw of the responses were polite and explanative not trolling and vicious.