Thursday, August 13, 2015

The Past's Future

These days with the weight of the CSM tag over my head I often avoid contentious topics for fear that someone will scream that the sky is falling because the CSM said so. But wow, anger just clears the mind! Today, I don't care. I'm going to indulge myself.

Last night, after everything, I came back from my appointment and chatted with some of the people that were still hanging around. I was asked, "Sugar what do you think about supers and links just being deleted from the game."

The topic comes up sometimes. Can these things be fixed? Can they ever be balanced? Should they just be deleted?

Twelve years ago, a game called Eve Online was created. It was created with a persistent universe with a vertical balance that quickly tilted towards the horizontal. It had many grand visions of epic battles fielded by thousands of players on a single server. It would be a place of persistence. A world with real history. It would evolve into a player driven story unlike any other.

I like that about, Eve. I don't take the idea of removing anything about the game idly. Some things have been removed but more often changes are made that move away from a direction but leave history behind them. It may be ugly for the database but it is beautiful for the game story. That story was utterly important to those who developed it and lived for it.

The conversation for Titans started as early as January 2005. That is a year and a half after release. The introduction of supers into the game happened at the end of 2005 with the release of Eve Online: Red Moon Rising. There is a Chronicle named "Titan" written about them.

It is now 2015 and we are still struggling with these ships in gameplay. They have been so amazing that they could launch a doomsday through a cyno and destroy and entire grid. That got nerfed. As more came into the game they got nerfed more. Super's were once motherships, made to move entire fleets and they later became super carriers, bigger versions of the same thing. The understanding of video games and MMOs in 2005 was not prepared for 2015.

That leaves us with a constant state where CCP tries to make their assets work as their game and players grow and age. Developers of the future are sitting with choices from the past and everyone is trying to make it work.

Due to Eve's habit of not removing things but balancing, revaluing, and adjusting, we keep trying to envision what to do with these ships. But, the question has crept up more in discussions I have with players. "Can these ships be saved or should CCP delete them from the game?"

There is the emotional reaction of "my stuff!" Supers are often asperational achievements. Many players put large amounts of time into gaining access to these ships. People dream of them. New players gasp at them. When a cyno goes up and the solid thump of landing supers hits me my pulse races. They are amazing, awe inspiring, things. To take them would mean that the effort that went into gaining them is gone. In a game where our things maintain their relative value, that is a big deal. It means that ISK, skills, and time are gone. Two of those three things can be given back but time is never captured once spent.

But do they have a place in Eve's future? Or, more correctly, would Eve be better without them? If the top of the line ships were carriers and dreadnoughts? In a world where structure grinding is being eliminated for other forms of game play what do we do? Is it more of the same? Can we find unique and interesting things to do with them?

Which brought up a second thought. If we supers in all their forms were radically changed, how should that be handled? Normally, we suck up change and go. But there is a difference between rebalancing haulers and turning supers into a different gaming platform then what people invested in them.

If the changes were radical enough, should there be an optional turn in? You can continue down the path or you can turn in your ship for X return and your player for its skill points reimbursed. I wondered if such a choice would create a better or worse situations for those who found their new choices incomprehensible.

Is there a path where Eve could shed some of its heaviest burdens? I don't know. It is heresy to ask. But maybe we need heretics.

5 comments:

  1. I doubt just "removing supers" would have desired effect a singular player expects. Eve players have historically proven to be adept finding hoop-holes or alternatives to counter significant CCP changes. The recent issue was null to null WH. Because it had becomes the workaround to jump fatigue. I am sure that when the WH nerf is overcome (and I expect something else clever to replace this) there will be more outcry of "OP" and please nerf.

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  2. Ok... why delete? Why not add? Add ships that balance supers. Role specific ships... ships that give the supers a fight for their money. Not more supers though... something new, something different.

    I don't fly supers and most likely never will, so I don't have the experience base to imagine from, but why do we talk about deleting from the game when we could add to the game??

    Deleting is easy... EVE is hard.... well, it's supposed to be anyway, but all I'm hearing anymore is get rid of this and simplify that... IE... let's get CCP to simplify and nerf EVE to death.

    Why? What happened to us?

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    Replies
    1. Generally speaking, the solution to a giant pain in the ass monster isn't to create more giant pain in the ass monsters. Haven't you watched kaiju movies?

      I think CCP first needs to identify the roles for the various ships, rather than continue to release new ones. T3Ds probably shouldn't have actually come out at all, given that they cannibalized some other ship classes. What is the purpose of Titans right now? Obviously, the whole clone bay thing is a failed premise (no point at all anymore). Are they really supposed to be "bigger dreadnoughts"? Did we need that? Dreads seem plenty vulnerable as they are.

      And what of supers? Did we need bigger, stronger carriers that can do more damage? Was this ever a problem, or was it just a way to make a new shiny that people could aspire to?

      Let's look into possible niche roles of these ships first, before we decide whether we need to modify or delete.

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    2. I agree with what Talv is saying about defining roles, but do think the knee jerk "XYZ sucks, let's nuke it from the game" is a sentiment that gets a big thumbs down from me. Sadly, it's been the reaction du jour recently on a few contentious systems in the game. As I said in a post earlier this week, deleting content nibbles at the soul of the game, and that's a net loss.

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  3. Ok so, supers should be different from not supers.
    Is that a difference in scale or a difference in kind?
    - Do we want them to do the same only bigger and stronger?
    - Or do we want them to be very different experiences to fly & in what they can do?

    Personally I think they should take a leaf out of the pirate ship mechanics, where each faction has ability(s) that lets them "break the rules" and subvert expectations.

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