Monday, March 3, 2014

Rambling: Really Reality?

[TL;DR: Thoughts about the balance aspect of fun, needful and needless complexity, and reality]

Since the small DDoS attack a few days ago I have been dealing with multiple socket closures when I log in. Currently, it takes an average of 10 attempts before one of them clicks and actually lets me into the game. This would be frustrating on a normal level. I come home and look forward to playing. I often have a list of chores that I wish to accomplish. I may have been watching a skill queue tick down and I want to address it before I forget about it. Having to try multiple times to log in is frustrating. It becomes annoying when it happens across all of my accounts that I want to log in.

Eventually, I get everyone where they need to be. I grumble some but once logged in the frustration vanishes. I've never been shy of the fact that I am a creature of alts.  It is the way that I have been able to play as many areas of the game as I do. Chella, for instance, is gnawing through her capital skills. I pondered in Jabber if Sugar really needs to be able to fly a carrier for the occasional instance that we want to do a fast jump to a target as we did a few days ago. Looking at Chella, who has been doing capital skills for a long time now, my answer is no. Help me but my patience is only but so great and I like finishing skills sometimes.

But, if I only had one account? If everyone only had one account? Eve would be a very different place.

I know a few people who only have one account. They, like solo players play a very hard game of Eve. I have a lot of respect for that. I'd be nonfunctional with only one account. Or, I should say that I'd be non-functional in many of my current hobbies. I'd have to give up huge chunks of what I do in Eve for a long time and that is an unpleasant thought.

I sometimes see the one account or one character only arguments. Beyond how hard that would be to enforce I'm not sure that it would make for better game play. It would make for different game play. Someone would have to be the link ship sitting off grid. Someone would have to be the ten minute cyno. The scout would be a scout but people would still be able to AFK cloak to their hearts content. And while things would be very different would they be more compelling and increase the games playability?

Often when I argue with Vov and his quest to nerf highsec income into the ground I argue that his point is based around an ISK per hour figure. As someone who does not play based around ISK per hour, his equation would maim me and players like myself. And, I often ask, "While it may sound good on paper and in numbers, would it be fun and engaging?"

A lot of mechanics changes, ideas, nerfs, and buffs are based around numbers and statics. Eve players tend to work with the mechanics of the game when they suggest things. But, like the world of one chracter or the world defined by ISK per hour, would it still be a fun place to play? At what point do we have to look at what makes sense and what might be fun?

I think of this a lot with physics engines and things that don't make sense but they just are. We where throwing around deployable structure ideas. One idea from Sigrun was an object that created a cloud of jet can like objects to decloak something. Mine was a deployable that turned into a large collidable object. These could be scattered on the grid and they'd cause the ships to have obstacles. However, we all know our guns are magical and shoot through objects to hit spaceships. And if they stopped being magical it would change aspects of combat. One could hide being a POCO and let it absorb the damage. It would change things. For the better? Maybe?

Even as I write a question floated up in my chat, "Would the game be better without skillbook purchases as they are?" This also came up on twitter the other day too. On twitter I made a joke, but tonight I said that it might be a small thing but it would change the game. I don't know if that change would be bad but it would be a change. I spent my first few weeks in game in Derelik. There are no schools down there. I purchased my skillbooks from players reselling in one of the main trade stations because I didn't know any better. I didn't understand skillbook sales at the time. Now I know better and I know that you'd have to fly deeper into Empire's heart to find a school. Is that bad? In Molden Heath all the schools are in low sec. Null sec and wormhole groups have to plan and move skillbooks around. I'd not count going to get skillbooks as 'fun' but their current structure causes a ripple of activities and opportunities that would vanish. Does 'makes sense' win just because it makes sense? Or, can the need to sell us ads and track our market habits (my twitter answer to why we can't download skillbooks) explain away the reason why Eve can copy my brain at death and send it to a waiting body but not let me have a kindle. And then how do we account for rare skillbooks? A DRM key drops in the site?

It is amusing but understandable that the argument of reality can be more con than pro in a game. We are, after all, playing in a virtual reality. Sometimes changes are introduced simply for the sake of 'it makes sense' and 'it would be more real'. Often, it helps us adjust to or accept changes introduced. But sometimes, when the idea bubbles to the surface it may make sense without being fun. Or it may be fun without making sense. I going to say that the general goal is to find that sweet spot in the middle. Somewhere between complex and reasonable, fun and as sensible as internet spaceships are going to get.

1 comment:

  1. I may have commented on this on your blog before, but since you mentioned the physics model. One of my first surprises as a brand new player was on a newbie training mission - it was near an asteroid field, so I moved to put an asteroid between me and the attacking NPC ship. Imagine my surprise when they kept shooting me. That's something that I think a lot of younger players might consider unacceptably immersion breaking - they're used to much more sophisticated physics engines. As a programmer and a old geezer who has been playing video games for 30+ years, I just laughed and realized CCP wasn't willing to do the collision detection needed. Though then I was disappointed that my ship could get stuck inside a collidable object and still be shot the whole time. I know this is a big architecture issue, and one that could be particularly problematic for big fights, but I think it's going to limit Eve new player adoption long term.