Tuesday, June 18, 2013

To Boldly Go... to the Back of the Queue for the Next Site...

~or, To Seek Out New Content and New ISK Faucets...

The most recent Expansion to EVE Online is called Odyssey. It is touted as an Exploration themed Expansion… but, what is Exploration?

This thought occurred to me as I was reading a comment from helenakhan on Nosy Gamers blog in response to the post, “Odyssey - Living Up To The Name”. Helena dint say anything specific that kicked off this idea, it was moar general. You see a lot of the comments on bogs and the forums and such about Exploration in Odyssey have been quite negative, seems to me roughly half n half. I myself have written on how I believe Probing was badly nerfed in my first really negative CCP post, “Slowest Kid in the Class FTW!!” I have weighed in on this subject in comments on ”Jester’s Trek”, “Low Sec Lifestyle” and on “A Scientist Life in EVE” in which I summed up my feelings about as well as I can thusly: 


“I just had a revelation, I was responding to Scientist re his post "It’s the little things you miss" when it hit me... After Odyssey dropped I felt something was missing… now I know what it is...

I miss the little things…

I miss the fear, pressure and risk involved in the possibility of not recalling my probes in time…

I also miss the immediacy and the need to keep your head in the game that imminent probe loss forced on us… you looked away from your screen on pain of death… now you can watch whole episodes of Mad Men and your probes just take care of themselves…

I miss the trepidation, pressure and risk inherent in needing to be decloaked long enough to launch all 7 probes…

I miss working out the best probe configuration on my own… not having one that is just ‘meh’ good enough so that I no longer ‘waste’ time setting up my own patterns… and I fear for our poor noobs, who will believe that the one insta-launch 8 probe configuration is the BESTEST configuration ’cause CCP wouldn’t have put it in there if it wasn’t… right?

I miss launching just the number of probes “I” want to launch, and no more.

But most of all, most of all... I miss undocking, logging on or jumping a gate or a hole into a deep black forbidding mysterious sky… and NOT immediately KNOWING EVERYTHING around me without trying...

I miss exploring...

Strange to feel this way after an ‘Exploration’ based expansion drops huh? “ 


The root of that feeling, of missing Exploration, dint ‘gell’ until I was reading Helena’s comment… What is Exploration I asked myself? Several things came together at once for me…

(1) Exploration is journeying into the “unknown” to SEEK and FIND out what is out there;
(2) Exploration is dangerous; it has very high Risks, often for great Rewards… but not always.
(3) Exploration can be done solo, but some types of exploration cannot be successful without support;
(4) Exploration is endless; it does not ‘run out’ of content (there is ALWAYS something NEW to find);

Now I dint get these from a book or a google search, these are just my personal understanding or ‘take’ on what Exploration is. So, how does Odyssey’s “Exploration” stack up against my 4 point list?

(1) Exploration is journeying into the “unknown” to SEEK and FIND out what is out there;

Exploration in Odyssey is simplified right at the undock, there is no ‘SEEKING’, and you no longer have to “Open Scanner > select System Scan > Hit Scan” then wait a few seconds for a list of intriguing possibilities...

Now, you undock and there is it, all laid out in front of you. The Discovery Scanner sweeps and shows you all Anomalies and Signatures in the system, all right there on the main screen. Anomalies are just one simple click away from ‘warpto’ or ‘BM’ and Signatures show what celestial they are near, their scan ID, etc. It’s all just handed to you onna plate and forcefed right into your brain… whether you want it or not.

This is not seeking to find out, this is NOT ‘Exploration’. This is a Quest and the Dungeon Master (CCP) is doing ALL the work for you.

Score: -1

(2) Exploration is dangerous; it has very high Risks, often for great Rewards… but not always;

We all, I think, agree that Exploration is dangerous, but what are the dangers of Exploration? Well, you are most often out on your own, solo without backup or rescue nearby. Not necessarily true in EvE, but OK, this is still sorta there.

Back in the day if someone wanted to hunt down players in Anoms & Sigs he had to want to find you bad enough to learn the High Skill and Fine Art of The Probening… Now you can get attacked or ambushed in any of the new Insta-scanned Anoms (basically Anomalies are now the same as any celestial, they just don’t show up in the OV list is all and all Sigs can be scanned down in minutes) because ANY ID10T inna Catalyst can look at his screen and BM or warpto the same Anomalies just as easily as you now. So did the danger level go up? Yes… but in making it so, the competency and dedication required of the attacker has been lowered significantly.

So, with increased Risk did we get increased Reward? Well, IMHO no… but I live in a special place, not Empire, so going by the NoizyGamer (Nosy Gamer blog) my impression is yes but not great and now he says CCP is making noises about how “…the payout is too great…” so mebbe the Reward is there and it did sound like Noizy enjoyed it and felt he was getting his ISK worth outta it (“Odyssey - Living Up To The Name”) so I will take his word on it as I am not an Empire dweller and my ISK per hour expectations are Anoikis based.

Score: +1

(3) Exploration can be done solo, but some types of exploration cannot be successful without support;

The Data Sites seem to be a nod in this direction as the Lewt Piñata Minigame spews its treats out at a fair clip designed to be just fast enough, and the collection mechanic (a tractor beam none one knew was there on ALL ships regardless of class or fit) can only be (1) activated on one lewt can at a time and (2) only frees up after the can has been dumped in your hold, add this to the spreading out of the cans as they fly away into space and this pretty much assures that the solo player will not be able to capture 100% of the lewt hence flying with bros is recommended…

So you can either accept some loss of lewtz (though there are indications that you can scan and select the most valuable cans to go after, and I assume that means the cans you Hack not the cans you chase down… as I don’t know how you’d do that what with the clickfest that is part and parcel of the Lewt Spew… or you can get into the whole “Yea!, We got everything!” “So, split X ways, what’s that come to?” and again accept reduced profits… Six of one, half dozen of the other to me (I guess this would be dependent on your perception of the Reward level).

Score: 0

(4) Exploration is endless; it does not ‘run out’ of content (there is ALWAYS something NEW to find);

Exploration content in New Eden is finite… and, in truth, somewhat limited as the total number of sites by type, there are basically 6 site types and of those, only 2 are ‘really’ exploration (IE Hacking for ISK) centric:

PvE: (instant)
1 - Combat sites – Anomaly; NPC Combat -
Bounties/Loot & Salvage
2 - Ore sites – Anomaly; Mine - Ice or Asteroids

PvE: (probed)
3 - Gas sites – Signature; Mine -Gas
4 - Data sites – Signature; Hack w/ Data Analyzer – Loot (Anoikis only - NPC Combat – Loot & Salvage)
5 - Relic sites – Signature; Hack w/ Relic Analyzer – Loot (Anoikis only - NPC Combat – Loot & Salvage)

Travel: (probed)
6 - Wormholes; Signature; access to Anoikis systems; Anoms & Sigs; NPC Combat – Loot & Salvage; PI; Colonization.

Score: -1.

Overall score of the Exploration ideal behind Odyssey: -1.


Again I will turn to Noizy who plays a solo carebear Empire based game and Exploration is a solo(ish) carebear (ISK making not destroying) mechanic, he says, I feel quite tellingly:

…the system (scan + on screen Anoms & Sigs) is less exploration and more shopping.  I now think of the exploration sites as data and relic stores.  When I jump into a system, I automatically see the billboards for all the stores tempting me to visit.

Now, as he can immediately see all of the Discovery Scanner returns on screen he is more likely to drop probes and see what he can find. I agree that this sounds moar like shopping than Exploration (IE think roadside billboards) which means the “Hidden Stuff HERE! -->” Marketing Campaign is Working As Intended. Before Odyssey he probably would have just warped on through to his destination… and I will admit I too have popped through a hole or a gate and seen a sky full of ‘stuff’ and thought, “”Hmmmm, wonder what all that is?” a nanosecond later I remember and get all grouchy about CCP cluttering up the sky and ruining my roadside view…

So in this regard yes, the system scan changes may have made Exploration moar in-your-face as you have Big Loud Billboards that shout out that this system has hidden ‘stuff’ in it… (not really hidden though due to the Big Loud Billboard thing…) IE if you ‘see’ it, you might wanna go inside and buy the coolaid. So while I dunt like it much I dunt see it as quite as bad as the Magic Probes and from Noizy at least we have an upvote.

But, here is what I want to ask for/rant about…  Content. We have, in EvE, a very limited list of ALL the available sites, Anoms or Sigs, in or outside of New Eden and that aint Exploration. Hell once players start going to a new site, the highly detailed Reports & Guides start getting posted along with much of the details about how they spawn, work, what and how much drops, how to fit and hack/fight them, and how to ‘blitz’ them if need be, is all made available, etc., etc., etc… starting before the Expansion even drops onto TQ. It’s like IRL if I hear a sound like a Jet airliner, and I see a HUGE sign over the place I hear the noise at and I go there and I see airplanes landing and taking off… seriously, did I just ‘Explore’ and  ‘Discover’ the Airport? oh please…

Combat, Ore and Ice sites are kinda static ISK gathering situations. What I feel we need are truly ‘unknown’ NEW Signatures to spawn. We need Sigs that CHANGE over time, we need new Sigs added WITHOUT prior notice or documentation of “Hey get over on Sisi and try this out!” giving the players a chance to write up detailed EvE-Survival Reports before anything hits TQ. We need moar things, not BIG things… but small things, new things, unknown things…  We need Neverending Content.

Just Imagine…

You login and a patch drops, no biggie, skim the notes and nothing ‘verse shaking really catches your eye… Hey, they fixed that bug I hated in the thing I liked… sweet. You undock, the Discovery Scanner sweeps and you see a nice big red ‘TVY-725’ sig wayy out past the last planet… you drop probes, scan it down… scanning, scanning, Aura chimes in, “I am sorry Captain, I cannot resolve that signature, may I suggest Combat Probes?” uh… what? So, you drop Combats… scanning, scanning, scanning… Got it! You BM and warpto to 100km…

And what you see… you have never seen before… EVER.  WTF??

You go back to the Patch Notes… and there, kinda added as an afterthought, near the bottom it says, “Oh and a number of new Signatures have been added, but we’re ashamed to say, we lost the dev notes… please let us know what you find.” ZOMG!!!

Exploration should not be a ‘job’ with a steady if slightly fluctuating income… it should be a sweepstakes, a lottery, a spin of the Roulette Wheel… a turn of the cards… Day to day you should make just enough to keep it interesting with the ‘carrot’ of the very real chance, at low odds but real, of hitting it really BIG. Instead of a nice balanced drop, why not lotsa crap, or mediocre loot w/ a few nuggets of ‘real’ GOLD? I mean set a really random drop and have it pick from a table of 90% crap… carbon, scraps, mebbe some halfway decent stuff but that last 10% would be loot (single drop only) worth upwards of 20 to 100mISK each. Like a Faction POS BPC type items… just have the Nuggets drop only often enough to make it really worth checking under that next rock one moar time, JIC… enough that a ‘dedicated’ Explorer can make a decent living and rare enough to keep out the riff-raff, the immediate gratification types… To make a living as an Explorer you have to be willing to gamble your time for that Big Strike.

A few suggestions:

Randomize Exploration Sites:

New sites not in the current list… and not introduced with a parade and fanfare, just slipped in along with a normal patch with only the very slightest of mentions in the patch notes, and not mentioned AT ALL in the Dev Blogs…  until after…  =]

These would not be big sites like current Data & Relic, but smaller iterations on that theme…

Such as…

You scan down a Sig… on warping in you find a still smoking Abaddon, broken in half and drifting lifeless in space in a cloud of debris and corpses… Your Discovery Scanner shows there is a hackable sig in the forward section, Aura tells you that this is an Amarr Imperial Navy ship, last reported as heavily damaged and presumed lost. She was in the fleet that took part in the battle at the Core Freedom colony on the planet 'Pikes Landing'… the battle fought over the Imperial Templar technology… the tech behind the DUSTers… she must have somehow escaped from the battlespace but was unable to survive her massive damage… You gaze in wonder at what secrets she might hold... will the Relic Analyzer make you rich or barely pay the bills?

You scan down a Sig… on warping in you find an abandoned True Sansha POS Control Tower. After a quick scan Aura informs you that this one was used by Sansha Koveki himself… The forcefield is down, several mods are anchored, a few defense mods are incapped… and there, in several of the modules are hackable sigs… On hacking them you get the Lewt Piñata but… all you get is a few almost totally worthless items, mostly carbon and metal scraps that won’t even pay for your fuel… but wait... when you hacked the last can a new can appeared inside the tower itself… could the Data Analyzer possibly give you access to unanchor that several billion ISK Faction Control Tower!?!

You scan down a Sig… on warping in you find a small Asteroid outpost… it is heavily damaged and Aura reports that is old, very old and, of unknown origin… there are hackable sigs in the outpost itself and in a few orbiting Modules… on breaching their computer defenses you get… what is this? Even Aura does not know… you will have to wait until you dock at a station but Aura says you will have to find a Duvolle Labs Research Station in order to determine what you have found… and its value…

All of the above could be based on current ingame mission sets with the necessary changes and  tweaks, yes, still a bit of work, and yes, over time the players would have them all written up, total available loot drops, etc., etc. would be measured and weighed and spreadsheeted… loled, whined over and praised… it’s what we do, so?

And while CCP cannot add new items every single patch and expansion they could add a few new items every 2 or 3 Expansions included in a batch of new sites (again existing, or new, small sites heavily & creatively revamped) and drop them in, unannounced as usual, replacing some of the older ones… creating new content we would not even know existed until we ‘discovered’ it on our own (<- EXPLORATION), and losing content we would know was gone until we realized no one was finding them anymore… thereby creating the illusion of… Neverending Exploration.

Imagine heading back to dock with a 3 billion ISK Faction Control Tower in your hold… and when you undocked, you couldn’t afford the Itty V (you had to borrow) to get it home. Now, if you can only get it there in one piece...

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


  1. As probeable sites you name gas/data/relic but there are DED and unrated combat sites that need probing as well.

  2. You know I forgot completely about those... I will edit tomorrow to reflect this, thanx..

  3. @.@ now that would make for some awesome content!


  4. Hi Tur - those some awesome ideas to revitalize exploration :) Lets hope...

    Here's how it used to be for me:

    Hit system
    Hold gate cloak and check nearby traffic/local for numbers/reds/hostiles etc
    Warp to a random spot at a variable distance (esp if a celestial)
    Drop cloak and launch probes
    Hit prop mod, recloak and change heading to a random direction
    Arrange probes to my preferred configuration
    Resolve sigs as fast as possible
    Warp to location (or nearby)
    Run D-scan if a gate to see if wrecks on scan
    Decide if OK to proceed
    Run site as fast as possible and (hopefully) collect shinies
    Warp to gate or gate safe


    Hit system
    Wait still scanner finishes
    Drop gate cloak
    Launch probes with a single click
    Resolve the one or two unknowns if there are any
    Grumble to self about can spew
    Swear quietly under breath about T3s being banned
    Try another couple of systems then go home in frustration

    Exaggerating sure, but not by much. tl;dr - both you and Mabrick are right. I miss exploring too.


  5. Strange how CCP tried so hard for an Exploration based expansion, but because they nerfed it down to open it up for noobs... and so, missed the mark badly as regards older players.

    And may I state once again for the record I am in NO way against more stuff for noobs to do, but I am against nerfing existing good gameplay for that reason, IE come up with NEW stuff don't ruin old stuff.

    I can think many ways NEW noob friendly 'real' exploration could have been iterated... A new class of probes that require very quick skills and new sites that are noob friendly... take any example of the one's I forwarded above and you could easily balance them for noobs AND keep the 'roll-of-the-dice' BIG WIN possibility balanced with a decent (noobs level) income stream...

    How fun and exciting would it be to be only a week or 2 old ingame and make a 50 or 100mISK strike? from YOUR OWN skills and efforts? to not have a middling (and frustrating/boring) income handed to you by the Dungeon Master...

  6. @TurAmarth ElRandir "How fun and exciting would it be to be only a week or 2 old ingame and make a 50 or 100mISK strike? from YOUR OWN skills and efforts? to not have a middling (and frustrating/boring) income handed to you by the Dungeon Master..."

    Few days ago, i saw a younger than 2month old player scanning down sites in null sec, wich sites can give you easily between 50 and 100mill isk each.

    2nd, "(4) Exploration is endless; it does not ‘run out’ of content (there is ALWAYS something NEW to find); "

    There is 2 main diferences in profesion sites, if they are generated by system upgrade or not. System upgrade professions sites gives another chance of spawning professions sites and its not a % modifier of the random spawn.
    Prof sites from system upgrades spawn or are updated at DT
    but for those who spawn randomly when u finish one there is a chance to spawn another site X jumps away Y minutes later
    Well u can say this is not documented or proven, but my experiences show me thats not wrong at least.

    your blog is really insteresting. Wish you all the best with it

    1. First, thank you very much for your interest and for commenting, I am, as always, very flattered and amazed when someone actually takes the time to comment. Thank you.

      And yes, I know that really good ISK can be made in Null when 'exploring' the highly advertised Bacon Stores... but we all know that this is not something any EVEborn non-allied noob is going to be allowed to do in Null... ever.

      The whole idea behind the Odyssey changes to probing was to make Exploration so easy it will be accessible as an alternate income for noobs other than mining and ratting. All the 'Goonborn'... (by Goonborn I mean any new player who joins any Nullsec Alliance, Sov holding or Sov Beholden, and is, as Mittens said, showered with ISK, ships and shit... these players are not like those of us who joined EVE in the manner CCP intended, we experience ALL of EvE from noobhood through bittervet, the way the Gods intended.)... So, all the Goonborn noobs, protected by their corps, allies and Coalitions... safer than a carebears wet dream... can rat, mine and probe to their hearts (and wallets) content... Yes, you can make 20 to 100mISK probing sites in Null... but only at the cost of your eternal soul. =]

      As for a variance in site spawns and such in null... they are at most a variation, not "new" content... and again, and this is purely a personal opinion (it is MY blog after all...) but I could not care less what happens in null... especially as regards anything noob related. =]


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