Friday, February 21, 2014

A Step Back to go Forward

Let's revisit the past...

There is a thread on the forums called, "Loot Spew 4 months later". It is a thread dedicated to the scatter can mechanic that was introduced in Odyssey. This was part of a two step change to Data and Relic sites inside of the exploration container. Pre-Odyssey, one had a code breaker or data analyzer module. These would run like salvagers done and eventually win their roll and unlock the container. At that time the pilot scooped the goodies and went on their way.

Like many activities in Eve, it was not very interactive. It was a point, click, wait, receive bacon action. As part of an effort to bring more interaction into Eve and less watching, CCP created the hacking mini-game and the loot scatter mechanic.

I tested and played with both of them a good deal, pre-Odyssey. Exploration was my primary income stream at the time. I walked away rather unhappy with the system. The hacking mini-game is a matter of personal taste. With max skills I rarely lost a game. However, mini-game did not hold my personal interest but that does not make it bad. Most people liked it or were indifferent with little outright hate.

The second change was to the actual loot. Containers, for those that do not know, can be scanned with a cargo scanner. This was useful to see what was inside of the can and if it was useful. However, CCP decided that when the can was hacked it would throw out some amount of small canisters that the player would have to click on. The goal was social game play with more cans than one person could capture. This was best circumvented by bringing friends. Mixed with the new, ease of access of the discovery scanner to find sites Exploration became a much more new player friendly activity.

lmost universally, the scatter containers were hated. They did not appear on the overview. The overview is how we interact, efficiently, with a lot of our large, three dimensional environment. The goal of the scatter containers was to make us pay attention and interact with space. Double clicking to hoover them in with a new beam that all of our ships were refitted with somehow during the patch.

Why was it so disliked?

Many, many reasons. Exploration has long been a very solo activity. Many people make their income from it and bringing friends means decreased income. "Oh, so selfish?" Yes, actually. Players need a particular amount of ISK intake to maintain themselves. Sharing is great but unlike missions which are reliable, exploration is not. Drops can be amazing. We all brag about the amazing drops. But they are not every day. I have gone a solid month with no drop over twenty million ISK.

Second was simple rage. We had scanned down the site. We had hacked the canister. We now watched our loot wink out of existence. I had to retire my Legion because it was not agile enough to gather many canisters. Eve players want their stuff and once that site is scanned, hacked, and opened watching stuff vanish was awful.

The third reason was mechanical. Not everyone plays on large screens at desk setups. Laptops, smaller screens, they all suffered from the clicking and grabbing. In general, it was seen as not fun. There were other reasons. Forum post after forum post was made. A lot of it was assumed to be fear of change. Screaming started very quickly. CCP endured it. Sometimes change is painful. And, sometimes change is actually bad.

I don't think anyone became fond of the scatter containers. They tweaked and changed them to make them more catchable. They leaned towards abandoning the massive numbers that were lost. They shrank the size of the loot items because people were losing things due to maximized cargo holds. The mini game was tweaked. A lot of people gave up exploration. A lot of people continued to explore. But the scatter containers were not loved. Many considered them a punishment and not something to interactively enjoy. The intent was there but the reward was not.

I stopped exploring. Before Odyssey I stocked up on CovOps frigates. I spent a few days doing the new sites, I made some ISK, and then the market tanked.

You see, the side effect of making something more accessible is that it is more accessible. With Odyssey the price of salvage and T2 salvage plummeted. With that plummet rig prices fell. It had an interesting effect of T2 rigs becoming cheaper and the new Capital Rigs not costing ungodly billion each as was originally estimated.

But loot spew was unloved. When ghost sites were introduced in Rubicon they did not come with scatter containers. And today, it is official. CCP_Affinity has confirmed that the scatter containers will be removed in the near future (hopefully summer).

I am happy. I walked away from exploration. The mechanic became unfun for me. I went from spending the first few hours of my day scanning to all of my scanning ships gathering dust. While I did not like the mechanic and spoke up about my distaste I am pleased that it has been reviewed and will be removed.


  1. Possibly not very important if loot-spew is going away soon, but maybe some will find this useful in the meantime:

    You do NOT need to double-click on the scatter containers to gather them; one click is enough. Double-clicking will also make your ship fly toward the container - and since a moving ship tractors them less efficiently, it actually slows down your loot-collecting.

    The optimal method is to click a container to start tractoring, then click a SINGLE container ONCE while it is being pulled in. Your ship will then switch to collecting that as soon as the first is finished; once it has switched, click one more container once, and rinse and repeat as necessary. (Double-clicking is useful for chasing down containers which have flown out of range, but you will often be able to catch most/all of the potentially valuable ones before that)

    This also gives you much more time to check the container types and decide which are worth catching and which are junk - using a cargo scanner makes it a lot easier to cherry-pick the valuable stuff once you learn which containers hold which loot types. Catching everything solo is still impossible, but it's surprisingly feasible for one player to scoop everything valuable once you know what you're doing.

    1. Thank you for the tips.

      I had very poor results single clicking but that may also be the inherent response of watching my things fly away and trying to chase and grab them.

    2. Good tips. I do exactly the same thing. Sometimes when you click a container it does not get noticed and enqueued properly, so watch for that. But usually it does. Once you've got an item being tractored and an item enqueued for tractoring, that's when you are mousing over everything else looking for the particular type(s) of spew can that hold the best loot.

      I will be quite happy to see the loot-spew mechanic go. I am quite good at it now. Doing it well is probably even a competitive advantage for me. But I still dislike it. It's totally unrealistic and it is annoying.