Toldain Talks

Because reading me sure beats working!


Toldain started as an Everquest character. I've played him in EQ2, WoW, Vanguard, LOTRO, and Zork Online. And then EVE Online, where I'm 3 million years old, rather than my usual 3000. Currently I'm mostly playing DDO. But I still have fabulous red hair. In RL, I am a software developer who has worked on networked games, but not MMORPGS.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Half Finished Is Not Half Baked

Letrange has a self-described grognard's grumpy rant up called "The Annoying Half-Finish".

I'm something of a noob in EVE; I started in October, 2009. I love it.

I started to write a comment, saying that I didn't really get it. I read the post again, wrote a much longer comment and then realized, "Wait, this is a post, not a comment". So here we are.

Letrange writes:

They have this vision of EVE being the ultimate science fiction simulator. And as the game has grown they have been slowly but steadily pursuing this long term goal. Their skill system is geared towards this goal. They can make EVE as broad as possible without impacting the depth of existing "end game" game play. They also can go down branch roads towards their goal and determine that something didn't work. Rip up the tracks and lay a new road. Can you see Blizzard getting rid of Raid dungeons and substituting something else entirely? That's effectively what the sov changes were in the Dominion expansion.

The problem with this approach is they have still not reached their objective.

My gut-level response is: "And they never will, and that's what I find so dang-blasted cool about EVE."

You see, they are developing EVE in the same way that I play EVE. As a form of self-actualization. You make up your own goals, and you can define your own morality. You can turn down missions that offend you, or not. You can just sit outside a station chatting. You can suicide gank someone because you don't like the way they look.

The lack of structure is breathtaking, but it has to be expected that the people who made this game are going to have the same approach to their professional work.

Letrange did not call them lazy, or even disorganized. Which they evidently aren't. But they are building a game not for the polish, but for the options. To play EVE you must face the questions: Who are you going to fight? What are you going to fight over? What weapons are you going to fight with?

It's those things that make EVE interesting to me.

And the development path is very organic. They will try something that is in a direction they like, and see how it works. If it doesn't work, they will tweak it, or maybe even leave it alone until they think of a good idea that will make it better.

There are two things that Letrange mentions as feeling "half-finished" to him, faction warfare and Wormhole technology. I know little about faction warfare, but one of the commenters seemed to indicate that the main problem with it, finances, has been addressed somewhat by tweaks to the loyalty point store.

As to the WH tech subsystem that is known to exist but isn't implemented in the game, it does seem strange. It's nothing like what you'd find in any other MMO. I found something similar just the other night. The game knows about blueprints for all the survey probes, but none exist on any market anywhere in the game. If you want one, you have to buy one off the market, you can't make them for yourself. But you can get a description of a blueprint. It seems odd, doesn't it?

For some reason, they felt they couldn't completely free-market these probes. I don't know why that is. But one reason may be deflation. Any game needs a way to take money out of it. And this is a way that is kind of on the fringes. But the blueprint exists. Well, it could be plain sloppiness. But really, if someone took these out of the game, it would be more consistent, but would EVE be more interesting? Would it be more fun to play?

The Wormhole issue seems to be that there is another subsystem technology mentioned in the game, but which can't be researched or created or even bought by players. This is kind of a cool sci-fi scenario, though the details probably don't support this reading. "We know the aliens could do something along these lines, but we have no idea how to go about recreating it." However, it's more likely that it got left off due to time, or due to a redesign that made it unimportant.

EVE shows its ragged edges, but that, in itself tells me a story. It's a story of developers chasing their ideas about how to make the game more interesting and fun, rather than more polished. There's another story too, that's interwoven. CCP shows a breathtaking willingness to completely destroy ecological niches if it suits their purposes.

For example, when they put in WT0, it really cramped the style of gate campers. Who will tell you, to this day that it has ruined EVE. It demonstrably hasn't, EVE simmers right along with more and more players online as the weeks churn by. As another, more personal example, the last release flooded the market with scan probes, because of the new tutorials, thus completely crushing my business model. And because of the tutorials, it increased the competition for scanned sites very significantly. Also crushing my then-current business model.

Being an EVE player means having to change when the game changes. To me, that's part of the fun.



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