“It’s not a game you play, it’s a life you live”

Over on I am Keith Neilson Mandrill has given us a great insight into the process of the CSM in action.  It’s a great article but what caught my eye more than anything else was the ticker line Mandrill had associated with EVE;

“It’s not a game you play, it’s a life you live”

Is EVE Online just a game? (Now we have to be careful here otherwise there’s the risk of coming over all existential and we’ll all and up wondering if there are any options other than a red or blue pill, and if there’s no spoon are there also no forks? What about other items of kitchen cutlery?)

Seriously it does beg the question as to what extent we ‘play’ EVE over just ‘existing’ in it.  More importantly if its the later (as Mandrills ticker suggests) is just existence enough?

Of course EVE Online has been called many things in the past, not all of them all that complimentary – from glorified spreadsheets in space to a chat channel with some pretty spaceships as a screen saver.  Whilst these barbed comments are perhaps a bit unfair you can’t escape the feeling that there’s some kernel of truth in them.  At times EVE simply doesn’t feel like ‘just a game’.

At its worst EVE can feel like a second job; juggling corp diplomacy and finances with the same sensation of wading through thick treacle as we do in our hum drum real lives.  At its best EVE evokes the sensation of being immersed in a living breathing universe full of intrigue and ripe for discovery and exploitation.

Where the Game meshes with the Universe then EVE excels – we are having ‘fun’ whilst existing.  Where that inter meshing fails however then the resulting friction impedes our sense of fun and immersion and EVE becomes more of a frustration than a pleasure.

In some ways I think this drives at the core of what Mandrills observations refer to.  For those of us already living in New Eden its the broken bits, the wonky game play, the sometimes crippling lag that make EVE less of a life we’re living and more of a torture we’re enduring.

CCP rightly want to expand upon and widen our universe – more universe means more possibilities to engage within it (and therefore more fun).  By universe of course I don’t mean adding a few extra star systems.  Incarna for example expands upon the realisation of the universe as will DUST 514.

Mandrill’s analogy was to liken EVE to a garden:

“…in that landscape they (CCP) knew about the sick trees and dying roses and wanted to fix them, didn’t need to be told to fix them, but that there were only so many gardeners to go around; and until the major landscaping work is done, there aren’t enough of them to do the weeding”.

The trouble being that until that landscaping has been completed (a potentially infinite task) those sick trees and weeds are causing exponential grief to those trying to enjoy it.

I’m straying down that existential garden path aren’t I? 😉

The path to progress is, in my view, to design those new features with a view to fixing the current problems and communicate that to the players.

Take FW and Null Sec Sovereignty as an example:  We know that DUST 514 is on the horizon, and that it will involve visiting violence upon various worlds, the trick is to tie DUST 514 into FW and Null Sec Sovereignty in such a fashion that both these become Fun and reduce lag.  Planets exist across most of space, their structures (both planet side and in space like the Custom Office) might be vulnerable to attack?

Now if I were a developer I would make the Customs Office pretty vulnerable: I would not make it a huge pile of HPs demanding 15 dreads and a Sub Capital fleet to destroy. In one stroke therefore we have created a limited objective for smaller gangs to attack guerilla fashion. A few choice system blockades and a stricken PI supply chain in a given region and an attacking force could (potentially) starve a holding alliance of POS fuels and supplies leading to its eventual collapse.

That is just one brief example.  Much work would need to be done on the details of course, but the principal of designing in solutions could mean that CCP (and us) can have our cake and eat it.

Mandrill is in my view right in ascribing to EVE the ticker ‘its not a game you play, its a life you live’ at least up to a point. We should not though lose sight of EVE as a life we want to enjoy – an experience that keeps bringing us back for more; not a discouraging struggle against impossible odds.

C.

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