Wonderlust

Following a EVE – O forum post, and a subsequent blog by Helicity I thought I would wade in on the subject of the loss of ‘wonder and awe’ in EVE.

Of course its all perceptual, something new and difficult to comprehend in terms of its scale will engender a feeling of amazement.  Once we are accustomed to sensation and are better able to comprehend the phenomenon we are observing so that sense, or feeling, begins to wear off.

Of course this is a common problem for all MMO developers – that initial ‘OMG!’ sensation pulls us in and the desire to explore to comprehend holds us there, at least initially.  The challenge for the developer comes however when that sensation passes.  For most traditional MMOs the only solution is to add more and more content – additional feature packs with new realms to explore and new quests to complete.

That in turn creates additional problems – each subsequent expansion needs to be “bigger!”, “more epic quests!”, “HUGER monsters!” in order to re create that ‘OMG!’ moment.

And we’re not talking here just about the size of the universe but also its scale and depth.  EVE isn’t just x number of star systems, its also x number of player corporations, x number of market transactions, x numbers of modules, x numbers of ways to play.  That last one is key – the feeling that not only can you roam across thousands of star systems as a pirate but you could (if you were so inclined) do the self same thing as a trader.  Or a smuggler.

Possibly the biggest pitch CCP have made to date to recapture that ‘OMG!’ moment has been the introduction of Wormhole Space.  The uncertainties of travel, coupled with the removal of the local channel really help to create the sensation of space being a vast and unknown quantity.  Sadly in some respects CCP just fell short in my view of what it could have been.  Because w-space is the ‘sleeper’ version of EVE it is, well rather predictable.  When I arrive at a wormhole that tells me Im entering ‘unknown space’ although actually, from prior experience, I really already know a great deal about it.

It will have sleeper drones and sites, no outposts, perhaps a few player POS and …erm..well thats it.  I wont stumble across a isolated sansha outpost, or ruined station where I can dock and wonder at why all the services are still running.  I wont find a dark system full of asteroid belts but devoid of planets.  In short I am ‘exploring’ but my destination is already known to me.

To what extent Incarna changes that feeling of finding something new is hard to judge – that spike to the brain that makes you think ‘whoa…this universe is BIG!’ because it is so different from one locale to the next.  If I dock in a station in Verge Vendor how different will it look to any other station environment in the region? Or to the region next door?

If, and its a big ‘if’, these stations develop and are customizable internally to the extent that they become ‘places’ in the real sense of the term then CCP will probably have pulled it off.  Perhaps that station in Fensi will become renowned for its gothic decor and dubious residents? Whilst one in Ansur a haven for industrialists and miners – gritty dark but functional: the main hall statue a tourist attraction for the whole cluster?

If, on the other hand, one Incarna environment is well, pretty much like the next, then I think its appeal will be limited and that sense of wonder and awe one which soon fades.

C.

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2 Responses to “Wonderlust”

  1. Helicity is right when she says that the sense of wonder was only inside us… nevertheless the game has an active part in maintain it or ruin it as the time pass and we dive into its gameplay.

    Eve has a lot of “copy and paste” enviroments… at least in other games the place where you go are slighty different because a castle on an hill must be different from a cave close to the sea, so the developers need to build the trees, the shells, make the water textures and the grass and shape the world so that the player won’t have the feeling that all is not the same.

    In EVE all is all the same over and over and over and over again. There are just a few station models, just a few space backgrounds, just a few hangar models, just a few missions, just a few… do i have to keep on?

    I’m not saying it would help… but actually imho it’d do if CCP would take its time to fix this aspect of the game… create many many more skyboxes so that Amarr Prime won’t be similar to Kor-Azor, Orduin, Elgoi, etc… create different stations because well.. it’s boring that they are all the same 😐 how could it be that a Sansha station is like an Amarr station and why the Khanid can’t have black station? I’m not say a couple of more station… i am almost saying 1 model for every 5 stations… considering the number of stations we have in EVE it would be a nice.. same for the hangar… same for the missions. Create a Epic arc for every single npc corporation…. something like 120 or 200 chained missions.. so that everytime you play missions for a different corp you don’t always get the old same The Blockade or Damsel in the District :\ you can grind your standing and really “playing” not just “hardeners-check ammo-check undock and float there shooting missiles” while alt-tabbed you read the newspaper 😛

    Also an immersive UI would help… how come in the trailers you click on a ship and you get a 3d hologram of the informations and instead my 24′ monitor is not enough big because of the immense number of windows open.

    Even the exploration (of WH and of k-space) goes against the common meaning of the word. You don’t explore anything… you just discover the same radar and magneto you’ve found yesterday, the npc are the same and start from the same position… I’m not saying to create a random generating content but at least a bit of variety from the always-the-same 10 anomalies you can find would help….

    And the yes… the jumpgates :\ it would be so nice to take them out… to warp in a seemless world with no gates, no choke-points using the capacitor, being able to place timebased bubbles in nullsec to drag out ships from their routes, etc…

    I only hope that also Incarna won’t be a cut and paste work so that no matter where you are…. the interiors will always be same 😐

  2. […] try to create a liason with the topic started by Helicity Boson on her blog and taken by Calais on the hydrostatic capsule about the sense of vastness, mistery and wonder that someone can feel the first time he plays a new […]

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