Archive for February, 2012

Burn baby, burn!

Posted in EVE Online on February 23, 2012 by cailais

Its official. EVE Online’s forthcoming expansion is going back to the era of platform shoes, afros and wide flares with Disco Inferno!

Oh ok, it’s just “Inferno” but I couldn’t help myself.

Not only will this no doubt resurrect (phoenix like) the well worn meme of ‘die in a fire -in game’ it will also apparently rekindle (I imagine you’re loving the incendiary puns I’m dropping here)  warfare across EVE.

To be honest CCP Unifex’s dev blog doesnt actually say anything of any detail: its very much the usual “in the next few months…as we continue to develop…I’m keeping details light..we will be revealing” etc etc without actually saying what CCP are planning.  That’s always frustrated me about CCPs dev blogs – lots of hype not so much substance; and when the substance does arrive it often falls short of well, pretty much everyone’s expectations.  Not only that but if CCP reveal a absolute stinker of an idea its usually too late to avert the forum rage that follows.

So the question in my mind right now is if we will see a departure from CCP throwing themselves from the proverbial frying pan and deliver more than forum flames.  Crucible was good, not spectacular but warming – but will Inferno be too hot to handle?

Flame on.



Posted in EVE Online on February 15, 2012 by cailais

D&D, Dungeons & Dragons, that historic pen and paper RPG has got a lot to answer for.  Whilst it set the standard for RPGs it also forged a template – a template predicated on linear advancement: go kill ‘stuff’ and by doing so got more powerful allowing you to kill bigger ‘stuff’ and so on and so forth for all eternity.

And thus the grind was born.

EVE Online, however broke the mould of this template when CCP introduced its unique skill system, one based upon training over time – not through the unfortunate death of rats and kobolds.   The reason why the skill training system is so important to EVE is that, in theory, it allows players to quickly reach equivalent levels of skill.  It is (given the same amount of training time) possible that a new player can be as proficient in flying a Frigate as say a veteran player. In short there are skill ceilings.

Where CCP diverged from this concept we can readily see some problems.  Powerful vessels such as capital and super capital class vessels really do require a large investment in time spent with EVE.  We can readily see this as a valid reward for those veterans who have remained with EVE for so long – a clear degree of superiority over newer players.  But even these leviathans of space have theoretical ceilings and (increasingly as EVEs population ages) more and more players are coming into the stage where the capital/super capital is well within their capability to use.

The next ‘speed bump’ for player progression (in the traditional sense) is ISK, or rather the availability of it.  In theory I can pilot a dreadnought – I cannot however afford one. Herein lies the grind for ISK, and the source of whatever angst exists about whether game play X gets more ISK than gameplay Y. The implication being of course that if you want to progress in EVE you need to be rich.

This situation is not, however, unrecoverable. What is needed is a broadening of EVEs skills – essentially more areas of specialisation that the typical pilot can sink their teeth into.  Critically these specialisations need to feel as rewarding and on a par with the traditional reward of ‘bigger ship = more powerful’.  Planetary Interaction I had hoped would offer such a system – the capacity to sink skill training time and investment into the management of whole world economies and societies; a symbol of status ‘you may own a Titan but I rule over these planets’.  Even the much maligned WiS proffered the chance that again the veteran of EVE could turn their machinations towards the conquest of inner space – the station environment; corporate barons who managed the stores, bars and facilities of an entire star base.  Again it looks as if this opportunity has been squandered.

Perhaps DUST, and its intended links through EVEs wider economy will provide an outlet for the veteran players – a bauble to distract those from the currently inevitable march towards the mundaneness of capital vessels – it is theoretically possible that EVEs players will sink ISK into the prosecution of war on land whilst remaining removed themselves from the squalid business of ‘running and shooting’.  Whilst I will watch the forthcoming FanFest preview of DUST and no doubt be interested in the FPS aspects for me it is the wider question of what DUST means to the New Eden cluster, its politics and economics that will really draw my attention.


Enders Game

Posted in EVE Online on February 1, 2012 by cailais

In another universe and in another forum a discussion has been quietly bubbling away like a stew left on the heat too long about the “End Game”. The discussion, if one can call it that, is predictable enough – arguments resolving around if this particular “MMO has enough content” and what players can expect (or not) to be doing ‘at the end’.

It is, interestingly, not a subject that occurs with EVE Online – an MMO that curiously (considering its relative age) has no definable ‘end game’.  EVE after all is a game without proscribed goals.  There is no deus ex machina of Developers pulling strings and lining up content for players to knock down like so many bowling balls.  EVE just goes on.

I often struggle with the idea of ‘what’ content EVE can be described to have – and this isn’t a trivial question, with CCP updating the old EVE Online website to produce something both more appealing and more relevant to todays modern MMO gamer.  Pitching a MMO like EVE to the uninitiated has perculia challenges foremost of which is that it has no defined objectives, no proscribed goals.  Simply put: no one is there to hold your hand, and the universe is what you make of it.

Obviously to those already playing EVE Online this is a ‘good thing’, an open world of opportunities where you can be anything from a pirate to a scammer, an alliance leader to a lone wolf and everything in between.  That’s a harder idea to get across to a prospective player, especially those that have become accustomed to the high degree of sign posting given in other MMO titles.

Something which I would like to see exploited a bit more by CCP through the website are those classic archetypes (pirates, mercenaries, traders, industrialist and so forth) – ideally using descriptions from EVEs players themselves who are, after all, the experts in those particular fields.  That’s not to ‘dumb down’ EVE into some weird profession or class based MMO – which clearly it isn’t – but examples of the paths that can be followed might help to provide that all important compass to help orientate the new comer to EVE online.  Support this with an NPC/agent orientated New Player Experience full of the requisite flavour could help grow and expand the universe, and all its myriad potential, of EVE.