Monday, November 26, 2012

On Getting Back in Contention…

or~  Do We Deserve a Second Chance?

This should be (may be, we’ll see…) the last in what has become my “EvE Content Trilogy”. I have spent a lot of time since ‘The Summer of Rage’ thinking about the whys, after effects, possibilities and missed opportunities of the “Incarna” Expansion.

I joined EvE at the very end of “Tyrannis”. I joined Nov. 23rd 2010. “Incursion” was released on the 30th of that month. I created Tur and my first alt, Angel (well, TBH my dottir Boo created Angel…) in the old Character creator and spent the next seven months plus a week or so into “Incarna” with him (and her) appearing thus…

Then on June 21st 2011 like so many, I downloaded “Incarna” and immediately found I could not run the new Character Creator… period. Like so many I thought, “Damn laggy, effin slow, video card smoking crapware…” then I finally was able to use a much faster system and Tur (Angel and my 3rd alt Hiril) took on their current appearances…

I have to say that after everything, the video issues, and the rage and whining from so many… I was very impressed and pleased with the results. This to me is more and better immersion in a virtually reality matrix. ‘Toons’ these aren’t. By this I mean they are not ‘toons’ in the normal meaning, an appellation that comes from contracting the word Cartoon… these are not the standard MMO WoW-like cartoon looking characters which I really don’t like.

Take a look at the pre-Incarna Tur and Angel… a step up from the standard terribad WoW-like cartoon characters, but definitely not lifelike or anywhere close to photo-realistic characters either… now look at the three of me post “Incarna”… much more realistic and lifelike representations of ‘people’.

Anyone who has followed me may know that until EvE I was not an MMO player. I had actually pretty much stopped gaming altogether really. One of my biggest issues with all the MMO’s I tried was the cartoonish nature of the characters. I am not a cartoon and I was not happy with that representation. In FPSs like Doom and Quake, etc. you don’t have to constantly look at yourself all the time… you see your hands and your weapons for the vast majority of your gameplay AND when you did ‘see’ your character well… it was by no means photorealistic, but it was not a silly fairy toon either… It was a least a man, and in those early says the heavy pixilation actually helped... it sorta blurred the representation which was OK… it was all so NEW way back then.  =]

With the advent of Splinter Cell and Halo I was, for the first time, ok with constantly seeing ‘myself’ on screen… the level of pseudo-realism inherent in the Master Chief and Agent Sam Fisher was fully acceptable and was easier to achieve due to not having to create a highly detailed human ‘face’ for the characters... the Master Chief of course wears a full coverage helmet he never takes off and Agent Fisher spends the vast majority of his time in the dark and often has night vision goggles covering his face. The ‘faceless’ Master Chief and the shadowy Agent Fisher could be anyone… even you. The importance of face perception to human beings has been a major stumbling block to virtual avatar creation.

Infants are born with the beginnings of facial recognition, babies as young as 2 days old can mimic the expressions of the adults they are in constant contact with. We can also recognize faces in extremely low resolution images… the greater the familiarity with a subject the greater the tolerance for image degradation. (Refs: here and here.) A really interesting cross over I found during my research was this paper, “Face Recognition in the Virtual World: Recognizing Avatar Faces” which discusses virtual face recognition, criminal activity and it’s tie in to both real and virtual worlds.

So, the cartoonish nature of the characters available to represent ‘me’ was one of my main issues with all the fantasy MMO’s which seems to me to be the majority genre of MMO’s. I did check out a few SciFi games but nothing really grabbed me until EvE. In EvE, when I joined, your avatar was not nearly as important. You didn’t have to spend all your time watching some toon ass run all over the place… we instead got to watch very well designed and thought out, and in some cases really beautiful, spaceships fly all over the place! Now this was more like it!! My ‘toon’ was a very small inset down in the chat screen and a slightly larger inset at the top left so I knew who I was playing... but not the focus of my view and my time ingame. THIS I could live with.

Then came “Incarna” and suddenly my toon ass was someone I would not mind looking at daily. Especially my alts which, I will admit, were designed as Tur’s female companions in EvE and I definitely wouldn’t mind following them all over the place.. (and yes you can take that any way you want… ya dirty minded so-in-so…)    =]

So here we are, with characters that were so far from the ‘toon’ norm that aside from their virtual nature, it almost feels wrong to call them ‘toons’. They are much more true ‘avatars’… and I mean this in the original meaning of the word.

I wonder how many know the roots of that word. It is from Sanskrit one of the historical Indo-Aryan languages. Sanskrit has been a living language since around the 4th century BCE. Avatar in its original meaning was a deity that has descended to earth, the material manifestation of a Supreme Being in the normal world. We, as immortals with the greatly enhanced abilities our training and implants give us, are close to god like beings in New Eden… demigods in point of fact. Of course the current modern use of Avatar in gaming is a graphical representation of a user or a user’s alter ego or character. (In the above link for gaming, EVE Online is specifically mentioned… YEA US!)

Now, for those of you who have stuck with me from the top of this post (I am sure a goodly number got bored and/or did the “OH damn, he’s talking about those damn Barbie and Ken dolls again!” and clicked away into the Inter-ether… and good riddance) you are of course wondering where I am going with this and when in hell will I get there? I just wanted to give some perspective on what we had with “Incarna”. Does anyone know of any video game, MMO, FPS or other that has as detailed an Avatar as EvE does? I don’t and it’s a damn cryin shame to waste it. To waste the work Team Avatar put in on it… to waste the efforts and time those 20 people who lost their jobs over the rage the new Avatar and Micro-Transactions created… rage that I now feel, was not truly warranted.

As I see it the main thing CCP did wrong as regards the Avatars was to roll them out with no way to USE them… without any content ready to go with them.

As regards Micro-Transactions, that was handled badly in two ways…
(1) not giving the playerbase an up front and iron clad understanding that Aurum and the Noble Exchange would NEVER, under ANY circumstances be used for PTW (Pay To Win)… that there would NEVER be any ‘Gold Ammo’ or anything that can affect or impact gameplay in EvE and…
(B) not working out a reasonable pricing schema for Aurum and the Noble Exchange items, the whole Monocle-gate thing was really shortsighted.

These three oversights, mistakes or outright fail, no matter what you call it, were the genesis of everything that followed. All the negative issues, words, and crap that came after were (A) the highly emotional responses by a very vocal segment of the playerbase and (2) some poor management choices made by CCP (to which they later did a decent job of owning up to) to try and ‘handle’ that overreaction to these three main mistakes. In the course of the events that followed we, the players of EvE, lost a really great opportunity for a whole new playstyle, a whole new ‘arena’ of gameplay, one that had almost unlimited possibilities for growth. I detailed a just a few bare few idea’s in my last post… the opportunities that WiS could have brought us are truly amazing.

We have one of, if not the most detailed Avatar in the MMO world… and nowhere to use them… and it is partly our fault. Why do I say that you may ask? Lemme tell ya a story… Back when HBHI was a new corp and had joined our first Alliance, we experienced a few War Decs. We didn’t do real well and some people got quite upset over it all… me among them. At one point I found myself spending more time making and working on a spreadsheet (go figure huh?) to track our fights, kills and losses and pointing out how much ISK we were losing etc., etc. than I was flying around doing anything ingame… whatta waste of time…

I came to a realization then… an epiphany if you will… we had lost sight of having FUN in the game. We had gotten too serious about it all. This is the same as what happened with Incarna… the real problem here was one of perception. No one was willing to wait and see what CCP was going to bring us next. No one had any FAITH in CCP. Now Jester will tell you, from “Comment of the Week: Bitter-vet?” and I quote: “…all one needs to declare one-self a bitter-vet is to be willing and ready to believe that whatever choice CCP makes about something, it's going to be in their own interests instead of that of EVE players.

Are you, bittervets, bitter because the decisions CCP made are not the ones you want them to? Interestingly enough I read about this thing called a CSM which is a group of players who are (granted supposed to) represent the playerbase and bring our concerns to CCP’s attention… what other game publisher does that? What other game publisher would seriously consider it?? None I know of… I would like to know why it is a bad thing for the company that imagined and spent the time and RW ISK to create and market and support and continue to think up and create and work to improve their product “EVE Online”, a for profit online venture remember… why is it a bad thing for them to look out for themselves?

I can guarantee you Jester’s RL self does. I do. I can guarantee the company Jester’s RL self works for does too. So why does this make someone who pays (no matter if it is with time and effort ingame to make ISK for PLEX or a CC automated withdrawal, either way somehow we all pay) to PLAY EvE, pays so CCP can pay their bills and pay their employees continue to create and maintain and support this game, and maybe bank some profit too… why in the world does that make you ‘bitter’? Why is this bad?

Simple… it isn’t. It is ‘perceived’ as bad because of the ‘expectations’ of a vocal segment of the playerbase not being met by the decisions CCP makes. But I do truly believe they are doing the best they can and that they do not make decisions just to piss people off or ‘mess with them’. If they did EvE would not exist. The fact that they fired 20 people and all but totally shut down all work on WiS and “World of Darkness” and refocused on FiS and have since worked on a huge amount of rebalancing, new ships, mods and fixes for things that had long been ignored says they ‘are’ listening… and they are making decisions based on player input (read whining, moaning and crying).

We, the players of EvE blew it with ‘The Summer of Rage’. We forced a good company to change directions away from what I sincerely believe would have been some truly amazing new content and a fascinating new playstyle because we listened to a vocal minority and put aside our faith in the company that created and supports this wondrous game we all love so much… We need to take a good hard look at ourselves then next time we line up to blast away at some monument because CCP sux at life… it may not be CCP who is sucking. How hard and how long are YOU going to work for someone who pisses and moans about everything you do?

I just hope they will give us another chance…

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

Saturday, November 24, 2012

On The Bone of Contention…

or~  Can There be More to EvE?

Before I get into the meat of this post… I turned 2 yesterday!!! Yesterday, YC311.11.23 was my EvE anniversary date. I woke in my first cloned body on YC309.11.23 [11.23.2010 old Earth calendar]…

I the past 2 years I have garnered 28,548,315 SP (179 skills); my current net worth, ships, mods & ISK, is somewhere north of ISK 1.5B. EveHQ reports my finances from YC311.07.17 (that’s as far back as it goes) thru YC311.11.23, the past 5 months, as:
Total income: ISK 1.8B;
Total Expenditures: ISK -1.7B;
Net Cash inflow: ISK +88M.
Not ‘too’ shabby as my OL time has decreased greatly over the past few months leading to a much more laid back game than was my norm for the first year and a half. Plus I am not stuck on getting rich as much as making just enough to support my enjoyment of the game.

And, more important than the fiscal accounting, is the unaccountable…

I live in a HBHI’s Planetary Orbital Station, “Serenity Station” in OUR C3 Wormhole with some of the best people I will ever know, in EvE or in RL. My son (a RL Marine) is our CEO, our best friend (an inactive duty Marine corpmate of AI’s, a volunteer firefighter and in college now) is our co Director and Fleet Commander, Mabrick has joined with us while he learns the ‘Tao of Holes’ (a book I sorely need to write…) and is one of the best people I have ever met in EvE and our few other corpmates, good guys all… whom we have know for most of the time we have been in EvE.

I am sure there are those as will think “Damn, I got BILLIONS and I don’t live in a WH and I have been ingame less time than that!” I am sure many who can say that… but I am happy with my game, my friends and where I am and what I am doing in EVE… and in the end, that’s what really counts.   =]


On to the “Osse ex Contentione…”

My last post was on the perceived ‘lack of content’ for EvE coming out of the Reykjavik CCP offices over the last three expansions. ‘Incarna’, as I discussed, was seen as a huge content failure and ‘Crucible’ and ‘Inferno’ were seen as just big ‘patches’ rather than as real Expansions. “Crucible” did bring us the new Tier 3 Battlecruisers but overall brought a huge list of refinements and long cried for fixes to many aspects of EvE as it existed at the time. “Inferno” brought an overhaul of the FacWar and WarDec systems but like ‘Crucible’ was far more about mechanic fixes and ship/mod rebalancing.

These last three have not included ‘content’ like the grand trio of “Exodus” expansions which introduced “Deadspace” scenarios, Sov, POSes, L4 agents, "COSMOS" constellations with agents giving out story-driven missions and unique rewards, bloodlines and 23 T2 ships… just to name a few;
“Revelations” I & II which brought us the scan/probes system, contracts, Rigs, Boosters (IE drugs), EVE Voice, overheating, BOMBS!, L5 agents, starbases and outposts;
“Empyrean Age” gave us Faction Warfare;
“Apocrypha” introduced T3s, the Training Queue, Wormholes (W-space) and the Sleepers;
“Tyrannis” brought us Planetary Interaction (PI);
“Incursion” gave us the attacks of Sansha’s Nation into all of New Eden (except W-space)… and was the expansion I joined EvE in.
For a full list of Expansions and the changes and additions they brought look here.

Next was “Incarna” which was not handled as well as it could have been… and which ultimately led to ‘The Summer of Rage’ causing widespread unsubbing, sobbing and whining on a scale to cause the gods themselves to tremble and cover their ears… AND all of the rage and piss and moaning included a very large degree of “WHY are you giving us Avatars meant for your stoopid Vampire game when you could be FIXING shit what needs fixing in EvE??”

So what ‘bone’ am I saying we are Contending over? “Walking in Stations” is what… There is strong and vocal sentiment against this for those as have no interest in it and not nearly as much sentiment for it from them who do…

So CCP shuts down WiS (Walking In Stations), fires 20 people and refocuses on EXACTLY what so many cried for and what do they get for it??? MORE epic crying and whining that CCP is just spending all it’s time ‘fiddling’ with Eve instead of adding CONTENT!!!  Oh for the god’s sake! If anything ever does drive me to rage quit EvE it will not be shitty POS mechanics, or flaky W-space shit or getting ganked and podded all the way back to runnin L1s in my thong… it will be the sophomoric whining and crying of so many players who waste their time verbally crapping all over as hard working and farseeing company as CCP and moaning and groaning about every little detail they don’t like in such a ground breaking, and still after TEN DAMN YEARS, great game with no equal, anywhere…   =\

CCP Open the DAMNED Door!
That CCP shut down WiS and all it could have brought in the way of amazing new ‘content’ due to the afore said sophomoric ranting is a gods damned shame. Far too many EvE players do not realize WiS would have been a MAJOR step forward for EvE as a whole…” How is that?” do you ask? How if it was NOTHING more than CCP using EvE, hell, using ‘us’ as nothing more than a testbed for “World of Darkness” their silly Vampire game? How could that POSSIBLY have been good for EVE Online?
I’ll effin tell you how…

First, understand that WiS has been at best backburnered for at least for the foreseeable future. This was stated clearly by CCP Bayesian from Team Avatar back on Aug. 2nd ‘12 in Incarna/WiS Disappointment, and I quote: “It's been swallowed by the black hole of corporateness and won't be seeing the light of day for the foreseeable future. The team has been as vocal as we can about the merits of putting it out but to no avail. We're continuing to try and work out a way of showing you work we're proud of and think you will like but for now our hands are completely tied.” This is a locked thread but worth a read if yer so inclined.

Now as to how WiS would have been very good for EVE Online. It’s simple… deeper Immersion, more actual ‘content’, content that has the ability to grow and the probability of a brand new playstyle and playerbase in EvE.

The content would be similar to when Apocrypha added W-space to EvE. Wormholes gave rise to a whole new playstyle that did not exist before Apocrypha. When they were introduced players didn’t just probe them down and explore and fight Sleepers and then ‘leave’ with their Loot & Salvage… some players started staying… and eventually some started putting up POSes and actually living in W-space… in some cases aside from ‘store runs’ IE trips out of W-space to sell their Sleeper L&S, very lucrative PI and mining products and to buy needed ships and supplies etc. they lived and played almost exclusively in W-space… I know whereof I speak, my corp lives in a hole and we really only come out regularly for store runs, occasionally we might pop out for a lowsec roam or some such, but for us, the hole is home and life is good.

In my last post “On The EvE of Contention…” I talked of how WE, the EvE playerbase are the content in EvE. I have talked about this before in my post on BB 38: “Dogma”. As I said in both, CCP makes the sets, props, costumes and lighting.  Their job is to keep the music playing the lighting just so and the sets interesting so people will want to join in ‘our’ play… and I asked in my last post, “…is it new sets and props and décor and furniture and backgrounds that we want?”  OK, so we want, hell mebbe even need, new sets right? OK so could WiS give us that? if so, how?

Yes and it would do so in SPADES… Just use your imagination…

Welcome to our new home… =]
‘Walking in Stations’ could open EVE to a whole new playerbase… new players who would be more interested in Avatar or, ‘on foot’ based gameplay than just FiS. They would still skill and learn ship handling etc. but their main focus and game time would be spent in scanning down the Signatures of Deadspace and W-space hidden stations and structures, warp to the BM, mebbe have to fight off some pirates or Sleepers (could play solo but as in all things EvE, better to have 2, 3 players working together as a team) in specially fitted Exploration ships (whole new set of specialized frigs/mods/skills right there… cloaky, probe capable and with a universal docking port… say T3 versions of the CovOps, a REAL exploration frigate…), then they hack their way in and spend the majority of their time exploring, “on foot” those stations and structures.

And unless you have a corpmate flying security outside, there would be no stopping someone else from probing down the same sig and docking at a different port at that station or complex… then you have the potential for some mano-a-mano PvP if/when the two groups run into one another… DUST in Space! You would also have NPC fighting, I am absolutely sure the Sleepers would have drones or… possibly live (AI) NPCs… to fight against, I mean the Sleepers ALWAYS guard their stations... just think of the possibilities…

Try this on, you scan down a Sleeper Station, you have one or more corpmates cloaked and flying security as you and one or two other corpmates dock at different entry ports and explore the station, clear out the Sleepers, gather all the Loot & Salvage (Hmmm, Salvaging on foot, right there’s some new mods & skills? Man portable Salvage Lazors? Wheee!!), and then… mebbe take up temporary, or even permanent residence… why not?

Now you would use a different (new!) hacking mod to password ‘lock’ the docking ports and use the station as a home. You would have to find and hack the main computer systems so you can access the stations powerplant allowing you to fuel it up (new mods/fuels/skills etc.) which would allow you to bring up the forcefield. Then you hack access to the Ship Hangars and Storage Bays so you can online them. Then hack access to the stations defenses (Sleeper missiles/lasers/etc. new skills, OH HELL YEA!!!), then repair and online them…!

Is this starting to sound interesting yet?  =]

Well… That has got MY interest!
Ok, let’s say you are totally ‘meh’ on wandering around shooting NPC’s in the face and exploring dank, musty old abandoned stations… they smell funny, give you the creeps and you have allergies… ok, then imagine this...

You are in docked up in Dodixie ship spinning and chattin on TS with yer corpies when, your locator agent (to whom you have paid a lot in advance to for this NEW service) contacts YOU and reports one of your bounty targets has just docked and left his ship and is inside the station. You go hunting… you spy him on the Concourse... follow him until he goes into a bar... you casually walk up to the bar, turn and pull your ZN-28 Nova Knife and (in a Splinter Cell style move) grab him from behind and slit his throat… his lifeless clone slides to the floor as you get the ‘ping’ announcing your bounty payment has been received… you kneel and wipe your blade on his slowly cooling torso, slide the knife back in its sheath, down your drink and walk out without a sound Eastwood style… (THIS really should be a char action you can key!!) (mebbe have the theme from “The Good the Bad and the Ugly” play as you walk out…)

Or... you have a personal grudge against an old CEO... your locator agent reports he has just docked up and is inside a station only 3 hops away... You reship to your fastest Interceptor and quickly warp to the station and dock up. Exit your ship and jog up to the upper walkway overlooking the Concourse... you spot your enemy, maneuver until you are in range and wait for him to pause, you quickly pull your CAR-9 Scrambler Pistol, get him in your sights and drop him with a perfect headshot. Of course, as this is an act of murder not an authorized Bounty kill CONCORD or the Empire Security Agents in charge of station security immediately target you with low power laser turrets built into the ceiling and blast you back into a new clone too... But it was WORTH it to watch him crumple down into a pool of blood in front of everyone!! Those are but a few of the many, many scenarios my imagination keeps throwing out…

I want…

I want to orbit a Planet not just sit at "0"... Then, while my Loki is in orbit, I want to jump in a shuttle, order the Loki to cloak up or warp to a safe, and FLY down to the planet’s surface, get out and, now acting as a Duster for my corp, KILL DUSTERS!!!

I want to dock my ship at a Space Elevator, exit my ship and walk in and around the Elevator's Concourse area then take the elevator down to the surface...

Understand I don’t want to lose Flying in Space I want to ADD to it! I am an EVE Player, I am a capsuleer and a POD Pilot, I am a Director in my corporation... I can guarantee you I will still spend the majority of my time FiS... but what I want is more IMMERSION... I WANT IT ALL!!!!  BUAHAHAhahahaha!! [gasp] [hack!]   =\

And for all of you who feel like this
CCP refuses to abandon barbie doll avatars, still sounds deadend and content-free tbh, and a drain on the Space Ships side of the game. The only future path I see is "Abandon avatars in a game that simply doesn't need them". Save the avatars for Sparkly Vampire, where some of us at least will be happy to give them a spin.

All I have to say to you is, HTFU that others might want to play EVE in any other way than the one YOU like. And as for ‘content free’, get an imagination.

However, If… just IF you feel this stirs your imagination and makes you want to hack open a Sleeper Station, or walk up behind your worst enemy knife in hand and a grin on your face… if you feel WiS has any possibility of adding real content and value and playability and worthwhile complexity and sheer unadulterated FUN to EVE Online please post POSITIVELY on your blogs, forums and here.

CCP I want to EXPLORE this!!

Fly Safe and see you in the… Sleeper Complex  =/|)=

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

On The EvE of Contention…

or ~  Are “WE” failing EvE?

Fathah!!!  the Sleepers have...  Awakened!!

I have been hearing a lot on how there has been no ‘new content’ from CCP since the Incarna Expansion… in the MMO Media… Massively; “EVE Evolved: Expansions, not excuses” and, though not mentioning EvE, this addresses the ‘lack of content’ push to FTP (Free To Play) for some MMOs, The Escapist in “Lack of MMO Content Forces Free to Play Transition”; and at Gamasutra we have a validation and some interesting ideas on what we in EvE call ‘Emergent Gameplay’, “Cryptic's solution for new MMO content: Let the players make it!” [<- THIS is really worth watching] Add to that the usual EvE forum whining, “Expansion after expansion with no new content?”; and from Robert’s Space Industries forums, “CCP’s lack of creativity…”; and from the EvE blogshere, Mabrick’s, “Keeping EVE Online Relevant in the Coming Decade” just to name a few…

CCP’s Executive Producer Jon Lander comments on the issue of ‘content’ in a Wired article; “Star Wars’ Stumble Points to Free, Open Future for Online Worlds”: “You end up in a race to keep enough content out there before the bulk of your players become bored,” said Jon Lander, executive producer of the space exploration MMO EVE Online, in an e-mail. “With [EVE], the more people who come into the game, the less chance you have of getting bored. That overall idea is what has kept us steadily growing now for 10 years.” And in this interview on ZAM by Gazimoff, “Caretakers of a Universe”, “Lander was eager to stress that players need some new content. ‘We are in the business of giving tools to our players in the sandbox – it gives us a lot of flexibility. But you can’t just give tools; you’ve got to put something new out there. In Retribution we’re putting out five new ships and rebalancing 40.’”

Which brings us lastly to this very interesting comment… from Massively’s Jef Reahard in “The Firing Line: Star Citizen shouldn't be EVE with joysticks”: “CCP isn't really interested in making a sandbox with consequences as much as it is interested in providing a semi-anonymous social networking fight club. Trust me, I've met several high-ranking EVE devs, and I've talked gameplay and design with them at length. To a man, these guys just enjoy messing with people. It's who they are, both personally and as a company, and as a result, EVE is as much a safe outlet for base impulses as it is a sci-fi sandbox MMO.

The Incarna Expansion itself has been perceived as a ‘failed’ attempt to add new content to the game via WIS (Walking In Stations) and the addition of Avatar based gameplay in EvE. Having made great strides forward on the Avatar itself, CCP did not have any ‘content’ to go with it, content that would give the players somewhere to use their new and greatly improved Avatars, add to that CCP’s addition of Micro-Transactions and the concurrent unavoidable possibility of PTW (Pay To Win) and those perceived Incarna failures brought on ‘The Summer of Rage’…

After that CCP redirected it’s time and resources to FIS (Flying In Space) so we are still not able to open that damn door in the CQ (Captain’s Quarters) and so the New and Improved Avatars and the CQ are still of no real value to EvE’s playerbase… and therefore, a ‘content’ failure… though CCPs Ned Coker told PCGamesN (as stated on VG24/7) that EVE Online Incarna content “definitely not shelved”

And yet… isn’t EvE a sandbox? Aren’t WE supposed to be the content? Are WE failing EvE instead of CCP failing us?  Ask not what EVE can do for YOU, ask what YOU can do for EVE!

EVE is a ‘PVP’ game with PvE ‘content’ designed to allow players to make ingame ‘money’ but NOT designed to be the point of the game. IE “My alt mines the rocks to make the ISK to buy the ships to gank the miners who mine the rocks to make the ISK to buy the ships to gank the miners who mine the rocks to make the ISK to buy the ships…” rinse and repeat ad infinitum… right?

So what content is there is not supposed to be awe inspiring and a major focus of player activity. The missions in EvE are basically just a job, a way to make ISK. Even the Epic Arcs and the COSMOS Missions, which are vastly more fun, difficult, engaging and rewarding are still not a fulfilling way to spend years of time in EvE. These are as close as EvE gets to the idea of quests as implemented in WoW and other MMOs. But EvE is different…

EvE is a sandbox (AKA an open world) MMO(RP)G. As far back as I can find CCP has consistently advertised the sandbox nature of EvE. “The Butterfly Effect” video has a miner in a Hulk under attack in the opening minutes of the video, this is intended to conclusively highlight the ‘freedom of choice’ inherent in the sandbox nature of gameplay in EvE... The freedom of choice we each have to decide what we do and how we play. They have created a page, ”Find Your Path in The Sandbox”, on the main site to showcase the ‘variety’ of gameplay in EvE AND they even have a “Personality Analysis” questionnaire to help you determine the gameplay that most suits you… and these are not limited to just PvP gameplay.

CCP promotes at the least six ‘official trades’ that are not PvP centric… Planetary Industrialist; Manufacturer; Trader; Miner; Salvager and Explorer all do not list ‘combat’ as part of their playstyle. All six of these non-PvP trades require, to varying degrees, ‘content’ written and coded as part of the game NOT created by the players. The first six, Empire Builder; Fleet Commander; Freedom Fighter; Loyalist; Bounty Hunter and Pirate are combat, IE PvP-centric and do not ’require’ ingame content nearly as much as they are basically player interaction gameplay, or emergent content… content WE create by our actions, responses and interactions with and against other players.

This BTW, leads me to now ignore those who state flatly that EvE is a PvP game. The creators and owners, CCP, have openly shown that half of the official trades they are advertising on the EVE Online Home Page are PvE centric gameplay styles, NOT PvP centric. EVE IS A SANDBOX offering and supporting many differing playstyles in BOTH PvP and PvE.

Unofficially there are a butt-ton more things to “do” in EvE as shown in this Giant Clickable Poster, all kudos to St Mio, in which I count 105 ‘unofficial trades’ one can ply in the skies of New Eden… a few more than CCPs official site… and this poster breaks them down into easily understandable careers showing the interconnections and divergences between PvP and PvE…

FPS’s (First Person Shooters) are great examples of pure PVP and decent PVE. In Doom, Quake or Halo, if you are not shooting someone or something, there is really nothing else to do… I mean you can drive a Jeep all over the beach and a tank and such for a while, but that gets lame quick… In Quake or Halo enter any area the enemies (NPC’s or live players) are in and as soon as you are spotted you are attacked. The only way to avoid being attacked is to go nowhere and do nothing but with live players even that is not true, as they will hunt you down and kill you…

I know whereof I speak I played FPS’s almost exclusively starting before Doom was released. They were, and still are, fast-paced, non-stop pewage but that is also just about ALL they are. Any storyline they have is, for the most part, just there to support the ‘why’ you are there. Halo at least pays some homage to a story… but all in all it is still boils down to ‘run into a room, kill everything in sight, take everything you can carry, rinse and repeat’. Even my personal fav, ‘Splinter Cell’ and all the Clancy logo’ed FPSs were just upgraded versions of basically the same rules with more covert sneakin’ around stuff and a greatly enhanced array of motions and actions.

But in FPS’s there is really NOTHING else to do but fight, no Industry, no Economy, no ‘real’ exploration... The action is immediate and EASY to find… also the players, of course but NPC’s also, have the ability to ‘win’, to kill you, a lot… but that doesn’t matter as you immediately respawn… and finding a wide variety of guns and ammo is not hard at all. Getting back in the fight is easy. There is no LOSS. So where is the ‘content’ in FPSes? The content is the scenery, the weapons and the NPCs you can fight solo, the rest of, and the most interesting ‘content’ is always the other players.

In EVE however, there is a universe of other things to DO… May I refer you to the Giant Clickable Poster above again? In EvE the ‘action’ can be, in comparison to an FPS, rarer and harder to find, though it is often much faster paced and shorter lived than the usual FPS fights. EVE PVE is not like FPS PVE either… It is not as immediate and fast-paced… and it is also much more susceptible to ‘figuring out’, to finding a ‘formula’, an attack pattern that takes it from interesting, read: ‘dangerous’, to boring and easy to beat… IE grinding, IE not fun. So, in a sandbox game, with so many interesting things to do other than PVP, things that BTW are necessary for continued PVP, IE mining, Industry, PI, ship building, etc., etc. …

In this sandbox, what are we playing for? What is there to captivate our attention day after day, week after week, month after… you get the idea right? Well, there are those who want to play EVE like they play FPS’s… they want to fly all over the place and attack whoever gets in their sights. But EVE is also a social game and there are costs for the uninhibited attacking of just everyone. In Hisec and Lowsec you run the risk of getting CONCORDED, in null you can’t attack anyone who is blue to you or even good friends of blues. EVE is not an FPS. It is vastly more complex than that.

So… what is it we want? The main lament of ‘not enough new and interesting content’ falls a little flat for me. WE ARE THE CONTENT. My corp, HBHI is a small wormhole corp. We do PI and run our stuff out to sell, we run the C3 Sleeper Sites for fun and profit, and we have gotten real good at it too, as C3 is the beginning of really good PvE in EvE. The Sleeper AI is designed to be very tough. As you go up in the class ladder they get more and more like fighting live players. We all know the computer could easily be programmed to use standard fit ships, and yet target, focus fire, maneuver and react faster and more accurately than us simple limited biological sacks of mostly water humans… In fact the Devs have to code carefully to keep the AI from wafflestomping us every time, like CONCORD, which is supposed to do just that.

What CCP does, as I have stated before, is set the stage, make the props, arrange the lighting and paints the backgrounds we play with and against... The stage is ours and the play’s the thing. So is it new sets and props and décor and furniture and backgrounds that we want?

Demo of an explorable Sleeper Station

I know I do. I want Walking in Stations…
But I want more immersion… I want to dock my ship, but I want the option to watch as the tractor beams actually pull my ship into the docking port (maybe on the opposite side of the station from the undock, maybe beside it…) and an animation that show my progress through the station to the actual landing bay. Then when I leave my ship I want the option to transition to my POD and fly it to the balcony of my CQ. I want to land it and make my Avatar climb out (and no, I personally don’t like the POD goo thing, so I would want to be free to choose a gooless POD where I am clothed and it is more a really tight single seat mini-ship than anything else…) so, I dock my POD and climb out and walk up and through the CQ and get to OPEN the damn door and walk out on the concourse…

The windowwalls on the concourse would WORK and show us the real time activity taking place at the undock… there would be NPC store fronts and offices, player run store fronts and offices, bars, eateries, etc. You would be able to buy your ships and mods and stuff the old way or walk around the concourse and visit Duvolle Labs, or Fed Navy to make purchases, or stop by a FacWar militia office and join up…

But most of all, I want to see is this, Walking in SLEEPER Stations… exploring W-space structures for fights and profit… ooooohhh  ahhhhhhhh…  and so I will keep flyin’, PI’ing and dyin’ while I wait for it…  =]

This isn’t all I want in the way of new ‘sets’, but we have the Avatars and the ‘door’…come on CCP, open the GODS DAMNED DOOR! I wanna kill Sleepers up front and personal with a SPOON!!

So… what stage do YOU want CCP to set for you?

I make my way to the first airlock... Spoon at the ready!

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