Friday, May 24, 2013

EvE is a Riddle, Wrapped in a Mystery, Inside an Enigma...

And It Needs to Stay That Way…

First, this is in direct response to Ripard Teg’s post, “Mystery box”.  His post is about the juxtaposition between what is considered ‘Useful’ complexity as compared to ‘Useless’ complexity.  In it Ripard asks for some player input on this topic.

Second, please give it a read, it’s worth it, as usual… go on… I’ll wait.

He hits a few key points as I see it:
(1) There is little to no documentation on much of the mechanics in EvE.
(2) Much of what documentation is available to the players is often:
    (a) made by the players and
    (b) changes when patches (IE rebalancing) and expansions (new features/changes) drop.
(3) Players endlessly debate the underlying mechanics of the game.

Now for all those who dint actually read it, a few quotes…

“I've blogged endlessly on the difference between needless complexity in EVE and complexity that adds to EVE's rich game-play. Which do you think this is? When you have to endlessly debate… (insert any EvE game mechanic) …is that adding to the richness of the game?  Or is it complexity for the sake of complexity that should be simplified or removed?”

“…in my opinion, most of the rich complexity of EVE comes from how the combat system is applied, not the mechanics of the combat system itself.”

OK… my response.

First off, this is a purely subjective topic. As I have said afore and will say again… one man’s needless complexity is another man’s fascinating intricacy. For instance players who ‘enjoy’ mining & Industry for the most part love the complexity of the ores to minerals to P1 to P2 to P3 to P4 and T1 to T2 to T3 and mods to ships to etc., etc. PvP players love the complexity of the multiple ships/mods/fits/weapons/damage types/tank/buffer or active/ etc., etc.

Second off, life is complex. It’s not EASY, and sometimes, hell often, the not easy stuff is WHY life is worthwhile. It is what we struggle against, what we are challenged by, it is what makes us grow and improve. It life was easy it would be BORING. We learn nothing from success except that ‘that’ worked, we LEARN from failure… from setbacks, from adversity, from challenges.

Third, IMHO… Complexity = Richness / Simplicity = Lackluster. This is a general & subjective position and can be effectively argued in detail, but I am making a very generalized statement. In gaming Nerf = bad / Buff = good. Dumbing down any of EvE’s complexity without extremely good cause is an overall nerf.

One of the biggest reasons I love EvE is because of its seemingly (yet not) random and sometimes, yes, aggravating complexity… Because it is worthwhile to figure it out, to rail against it and to win over it… and learn, and grow and improve… and then, just like real life, things change and we have to start all over again… discovering, exploring, trying new things and failing… but the whole time “learning”.

The reason there is little to no documentation about EvE is because CCP has not provided it. I mean it is, after all, A COMPUTER PROGRAM. It’s ALL code and CCP has to have not only the code but documentation about the code or they would be unable to work on the code. Unlike real life which has evolved and grown over millennia, over millions, billions of years, which just happened, and therefore cannot have ‘documentation’.

New Eden was ‘created’, written, by man. It’s all there in the language of computers, in the code and I personally believe that one way to keep things ‘real’ is why CCP has never released very much detailed information on the inner workings of the mechanics of EvE.

But if they did, imagine the situation, with a little hard work & study maybe some EFT/PYFAing and Boom… all the answers are known. Imagine if IRL ‘_______’ (insert deity of your choice) actually came down from the mount (arrived on a bolt of lightning, appeared in a puff of smoke, stepped off the tram…) and started handing out signed copies of a “Manual for Life”… all the details, how everything works, what to do, how to succeed, how to be happy… no questions, no worries, “everyone” who cares to read instantly becomes a Special Snowflake… oh yea… some fun then huh?

Ripard says in his opinion, and I quote again…

“In my opinion, someone very smart needs to take EVE's combat system, break it down and flow chart it, simplify it, and rebuild in a similar fashion to what was done with Crimewatch.”

“It wouldn't reduce the richness of the game at all if I could explain EVE combat in simple terms.”

No and Yes. No… Simplify = nerf. Sorry, but that is exactly how I feel. Reality cannot be simplified. Oh yes, we can create tools that ease the burden of labors, both manual and mental, but in the doing we add the complexity of those very systems to our lives.

EvE, IMHO, is the best virtuality that currently exists. Part of the reason for that is the complexity, the sometimes maddening complexity. Simplifying EvE for the sake of ease, for the sake of simplification is a nerf of the immersion, the exploration and the MMO famous learning cliff.

There is so much more to EvE than ships and fits… and learning, real life ‘learning’ is to me, a far larger part of EvE than just snapping together ‘stuff’ shown to us via the recycled electrons on the screen.

Can you explain IRL military ‘mechanics’ easily? You can generalize, or you can go into multiple levels of detail… MOS’es, Military Occupation Specialties are difficult. Skills are difficult, learning how to drive and command an MI Abrams Tank, or pilot and effectively fly a B1 Bomber… at night… at Nap of the Earth (treetop level) takes years of practice and intense training on highly complex man made systems and also on natural subjects such as aeronautics, physics etc. etc. EvE should be like this, and it is, to a degree. The skills we ‘learn’ take real time, they can cost lots of ISK, all as they should to reflect the complexity of real life.

Arguing the mechanics of EvE, CCP not giving us detailed How To Guides, no longer getting economy tweets from Dr. Eyjog, having to test and gather data on the details of how this works and how that works… the whole EvE is Harsh and Hard is part and parcel of the virtuality of EvE…

What I fear most for our always beloved and sometimes hated game is it getting nerfed down for the slowest kid in the class. The complexity can be frustrating, yes… good I say, it keeps the real mouth breathers and drooling children out. I have an ally who is under 20… I was quite surprised when I found out as he simply does not act or sound like he is that young. I have flown with one corpmate that was 16… but again, a far more mature person than his numerical age would suggest.

Ripard, please… dear gods please, consider carefully what you ask for before you go down that road. For every system where you feel frustrated and maybe ask yourself, “Could this be made easier?” please ask yourself instead, “Should this be made easier?” "Would simplifying it take away more immersion for the benefit of less clicking, less thinking, less learning?"

People all over the world, everyday, kneel, bow or make some form of obedience to their god of choice asking for help with the dread complexity of their lives… how would our world be if ‘_______’ (insert deity of your choice) actually answered? What if “He” actually gave us a paradise on Earth? How long before we are all back on our knees begging for something to Fight For, or Against?

Really ask yourself… are we cut out for the easy life? in reality or virtuality? Do you really want the 'mystery' of EvE demystified? Because once you start down the path to nerfdom, the path that allows the Slowest Kid In Class to be a Special Snowflake… you doom all that makes EvE the truly unique niche game that it is.

Fly Safe and see you in the Sky  =/|)=


  1. Must say I would like to have the game mechanics documented. Not asking for simplification, but I do want to know the formula.

    If everyone had to find out just how the crime watch mechanics worked for themselves through experimentation would it add depth to the game or frustration because you wouldn't even know what triggered concord or gate guns?

    Likewise knowing the formula gives theorycrafters something to play with without reducing complexity. It just removes some of the frustration.

    But do you believe the old crimewatch was that much better? The only real simplification was the safety button and people still get concorded..

    I do understand your fear of Eve getting nerfed to fit the slowest kid in class, I partially share that fear. I also believe that both the CSM and CCP don't want Eve to become a theme park MMO.

    And of course we have bloggers to write about potential pitfalls.

    1. Raziel, I too want the mechanics documented… I just want the mechanics of our virtuality to be documented the way we document the ‘mechanics’ of reality. IE by those willing to undertake the exploration, data collection, data synthesis, analysis & testing and then publish their findings exactly like we do IRL… in other words, to discover and share your discoveries with others… what I do NOT want is a “Manual” freely uploaded by the Gods of EvE. This is OUR virtual world, WE need to do the work… not have it done for us.

      Will this add frustration? Will there be those as will be upset about and put off by the ‘workload’ to get the answers they desire? Hell yes… so? Reality is a bich and then you die. Virtuality is a meaner nastier in-your-face bich and then you die… and then you wake up in your fresh new clone and reship. =]

      Knowing the ‘formula’, without ANY possibility of error and without having to use rational scientific analysis is boring (= nerf). The ‘work’ for geeks like us is a big part of the FUN... I mean think on it… the meme, “EvE is a GUI for Excel” did not become a meme without a basis in fact. And face this… people who LIKE making intricate, detailed spreadsheets for FUN are not really interested in simplification now are they? I mean they may ask for it and decry the time spent and amount of work they have to do but in truth… take away the spreadsheets aspect, and I would bet you would lose a percentage of players eventually… due to boredom. And the spreadsheets are not for data that already exists, they are a tool we use to figure out, understand and control the details of this complex virtuality we live in…

      Half or more of theorycrafting is working out the theory of ‘how shit works’ which give you the basis for your theories of ‘what to do’ next… so yea, it would nerf theorycrafting and possibly reduce some of the suprizebuttsecks for a lot of players… but, during the Battle for Caldari Prime I lost 2 salvage Algoses to the changes to Crimewatch by salvaging with drones only… to say I was unpleasantly surprised is putting it mildly… but you know what? It was NPC emergent gameplay at its finest… my interaction with the game itself produced undesired and unexpected results… and Crimewatch is very well documented (and I tried turning that stoopid damned button GREEN… dint help a‘tall…)

      I think the other side of the SKC (Slowest-Kid-in-Class) issue for me, is the imbalance that would be exacerbated between the SKCs and the BKCs (Brightest-Kid-in-Class). It is bad enough now, and I am not talking noob v vets here, I am talking vets who play a very narrow focused game and vets who have read and studied EVERYTHING they can (the BKC)… and therefore have an knowledge ‘edge' over the SKCs anyway… you give them Gods Manual and that knowledge gap widens ever farther, this is also something we do not need if we want to attract to the playerbase, and retain, the remaining people in the world who have the EvE gene… =]

      I agree that the triumvirate of CCP, CSM & the long term playerbase all are in complete agreement that they do not want a themepark… the problem is not what they want, it is ending up there by accident… by making just a ‘few, small, insignificant changes’, ‘here and there’ to ‘ease the frustration’ of EvE’s complexity… until one day you find yourself undocking into Trammel and asking yourself how the hell did THAT happen? …call it nerf creep if you want for a label.

      I rail against the ‘few small changes’… the Nerf Creep, cause it adds up over time…

  2. Couldnt agree more. Thank you for this well written insight.


    1. Thanx Sly… I am flattered…

      I was actually worried about this post when I clicked the ‘post’ butan last night… I wasn’t sure I had wordcrafted as well as I might… but, in my defense I was watching a season 5 marathon of “Mad Men” on Netflix and I find Christina Hendricks… quite simply the most captivating woman I have ever seen… so my mind was not really on the post as much as it should have been… =]

  3. Not sure yet, where i myselfe stand in this debate, still thinking, lol.
    But damn, this is a little Pearl, absolutely one of your better, really like your input !
    We cant have enough of immersion and mystery :-)

    1. Caras, Wow, thanx… as I said above I was worried this was not my best work, mebbe I need to have our Mrs. Reynolds (<- google it if ya don’t get the ref) on screen while I work more often!

      Thank you… =]

  4. Hear hear.

    If the complexity is due to hidden mechanics, then they can be uncovered and the game be made drastically simpler. If the complexity comes from simple and known mechanics that have a multitude of interactions, then we have a rich environment for emergent behaviour.


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