The other perspective (after “Revelations”)

So the “Revelations” patch for Eve-Online, or at least its first part, was deployed.

I don’t know if the servers came back up in time because the account management page didn’t work yesterday and I couldn’t manage to reactivate my account.

Today everything seems working ok and it’s quite an achievement. During previous patches the week after release was pure hell, with servers having problems and frequent reboots. So, as far as stability is concerned, this is one of their best patches to date.

From the perspective of a noob character not much seems changed.

The new map system is nice and, as CCP would say, “classy”, but it isn’t more useful than how it was. I find annoying some decisions with the UI, for example the constant pop-up as you move the mouse around, sometimes when you are just trying to pan the view and instead the mouse pointer loses focus to one of those menus. An option to turn off the mouseover actions and just trigger them on a mouse button click could have helped a lot (and something I suggested long ago).

There is now also a ring of stars/dots in the background representing the whole universe and that is part of the new “seamless” transition between normal view and the starmap.

On the other side the rings around planets now flicker as the textures on the Amarr stations. They talk about Vista and DirectX 10 and they still have massive texture flickering. Heh.

The other two things you notice right away are the wrecks instead of the loot cans and the contract system.

The wrecks need work because as they are implemented right now are just an added annoyance. Before you would blow up a ship, go loot it, and the loot can would disappear. With the new system the wrecks sit around in space and it’s really hard to know what you looted and what you didn’t. You know, the kind of problem that in WoW was solved with the sparkles ;)

The contract system is what I expected. Right now most of the offers I saw were scamming attempts (courier missions where the “collateral” cost was hundreds time larger than the reward, hoping to get rich quickly in the case someone gets the mission and then forgets about it), and some legit auctions. All the other types of contracts aren’t possible if not for your corporation or alliance, so not open for the public.

I still don’t see what is so much better than WoW’s system. Yes, it’s more powerful. For example instead of selling one item or a stack (as in WoW) you can bundle all kind of stuff together in a custom package. And there are more “freeform” contracts only available to your corporation or alliance (by the way, is it possible to create logistic groups within the same corp and open a contract only to that group instead of the whole corp?). It will become more interesting when, with the Factional Warfare late in 2007, NPC corps will open contracts and all sort of missions for the players.

For now it’s one of those features that sound “cool” but that I doubt will be used all that much. Outside of the standard auctions and scam attempts.

Finally, one of the smallest but most important changes that affects radically the gameplay is that now all the insta-jumps are gone and you can “warp to 0” everywhere by default. This means that travel times in general should be reduced significantly and that some PvPers will complain. The change was inevitable, though, and it’s actually bad that CCP waited this long to take a definitive decision.

Or you institutionalize a feature (like they decided to do), or you remove it altogether. You don’t leave in the game a semi-exploit whose use is limited just by the fact that it is tedious.

I wanted to check the new character creation, but to do so I have to delete one of my old characters and I discovered that the process takes ten hours. It doesn’t make much sense to me.

The “other perspective” is to underline the contrast with the typical playerbase of Eve. You can go in one of the forums where there are some Eve players and, in all cases, you find very hardcore players discussing concept that are nearly immpossible to grasp. You can be as experienced as you want with games and MMO in general, but Eve is another beast, and what I noticed is that there doesn’t seem to be ONE player who isn’t deep in the game to the hardcore level.

My idea is that there’s nothing in between. This is one major weak point in the game. Or you fall in the hardcore category and go deep in what the game offers, or you bounce back. There is no middle ground.

Some say that this is due to the steep learning curve, but I’m one of those who fall in the category that “bounces back” and yet I know very well how the game actually works. I joined when the game entered beta 2, at the beginning of September 2002. I was there till the release (May 03) but I subscribed for the first time only in December of the same year in occasion of the first expansion. From there I occasionally returned to check new things and it’s the same I did yesterday for this new patch.

I log in, give a look to those new things, warp to an asteroid belt, blow up two pirates and after an hour I feel already like logging out without much desire to log in back later.

From my point of view Eve lacks an “hook”. something that motivates you to go look past the next corner (figuratively speaking, as we are in space). Something that can give you the desire to go back in the game because you have something left to do. Instead I feel detached from the game. The major goal seems to be wealth, but money matters only when it is an “enabler”. Money as a goal just sucks.

With every patch CCP devs legitimately develop content that is targeted at their hardcore players. Whether it is about player-owned stations, high level crafting/ships, jump clones, death rays, COSMOS systems and all the rest. Again the problem is that there’s not much in between.

Everyone says that till you don’t join a corporation and don’t get involved into that higher level layer you don’t really know where the worth of the game is. And I agree. But this is also one major flaw. In other cases we would talk about “obligatory grouping”, but in Eve grouping isn’t really obligatory, even if it’s actually a lie produced by a wrong perspective.

The point is: I’m forced to find friends to enjoy the game. When the opposite should happen. You play the game and by playing the game you get to know people, from there you build and enter a community. The game and the fun bring you there. And then you get to the other players.

While in Eve this is reverted. Get to the other players comes AHEAD of the fun. Getting to other players is a prerequisite to arrive at the meat of the game. While the opposite should happen. Your hook to the game should bring you to the other players. Firstly you develop an interest for the game world. You are hooked, having fun. You slowly get immersed, addicted. THEN you slowly get to know other players.

For example. Let’s say I enjoy comics. Okay. I read comics on my own. I have fun reading comics. I’m not part of a community, but the fact that I like comics can bring me to other readers and from there build a community. But it’s not like I had to join the community so that I could enjoy reading comics.

In the same way, using WoW as an example as it does this perfectly, it’s when you are already hooked to the game that you are slowly “brought” to other players. It begins with an occasional meeting in a cave where the other player has your same objective and it continues later on when you are brought to your first instance. The key for the success is that all those steps are connected. While in Eve there’s not enough in between (you got the pattern).

Lack of interesting content is one of the flaws. The missions are usually quite boring and not just because of the travel, but also because the combat encounters aren’t exactly designed to provide an ESCALATION of challenge, or stuff to discover or figure out. It’s also true that it’s hard to develop interesting and involving content in Eve, as the player getting a mission can have all sort of different ships and loadout. If you cannot predict the player’s potential, then you cannot plan an encounter that is fun and challenging without being or boringly easy, or frustratingly hard. Actually NPC agents check the ship of the player before picking a random mission, so there is surely room for improvements.

In a game like WoW the “hooks” aren’t just the new skills and loot or the classic “ding”, all of those simulated to en extent even in Eve, but the consistence of what there is outside. I got a sort of illumination while fiddling with a starmap. So big… but still so empty. What do I *care* about in all those thousands of systems? Not much, because the large majority of them are redundant. That’s the typical generated content: nothing to see.

This is a phenomenon very close to Oblivion’s rubberbanding. If the world “moves with me”, why moving at all? Simply put, there’s a lack of exploration, but this is a limited perspective, because what misses here is an “interest”. Why should I care for the world outside? What is there to learn, be part of?

Players are here to be entertained but Eve just empowers them so that they entertain themselves. But, obviously, this doesn’t work for everyone. That level often is either invisible (what should I do next? where’s the fun?) or unreachable. Again, there’s nothing in between.

And maybe it’s time to connect those two parts. Maybe with what they call “Factional Warfare”, if they don’t make it hardcore-only content too, and if they can finish it before the majority of the staff is moved on the new World of Darkness MMO.

Leave a Reply