Sunday, June 1, 2014

Manifesto

Let's kick this off with some sweeping generalizations.  I'll use the word Manifesto.  It sounds all fancy, with an undercurrent of supervillian mustache twisting.  I mean, I could have said "mission statement" and given you an entirely different mental picture, right?

The great Dr. Google defines the term thusly:
man·i·fes·to
/ˌmanəˈfestō/
noun
a public declaration of policy and aims, especially one issued before an election by a political party or candidate.

My platform for EVE really boils down to a few simple rules (aka sweeping generalizations):

  1. PVE isn't a dirty word.
  2. Highsec needs love too.
  3. Small Ships are underutilized for PVE.
  4. Sometimes, we need a different measure of progress than isk/hr.
  5. Doing something unexpected outside of the "approved" way to play the game through skill or risk taking is fun.
  6. KISS - Keep it Simple, Stupid.

Let me expand on each.  First - PVE isn't a dirty word.  CCP has tinkered with PVE throughout the game's history in fits and starts.  Looking back at it, I'm not sure they ever had a clear agenda, or maybe never had the luxury of implementing it fully.  It's clear that EVE is a PVP game first and foremost, and PVE has been an also-ran.  And I think, in the grand balance of things, that's fine.  But I also think that the PVE systems are ripe for overhaul, and I think that done properly it would be a fine addition and could be used to drive meaningful interaction between players (i.e. create conflict that results in PVP combat).

But even whisper the words "more PVE content" and the opposition rises to howl about risk vs. reward, comparisons to WoW, and the demise of the game.  And I agree that there are constraints, but I think it's a shame that we apparently can't even have the conversation.

#2 - Highsec needs love too.  Often derided, much maligned, highsec content is a necessary thing.  And not in a "highsec is a stepping stone to null" context (although it needs to be that too).  If EVE is still truly a sandbox, and if player retention is a goal, then there needs to be viable endgame content -- and maybe more importantly midgame content -- in highsec.

Now, I know some of you are winding up your witty responses and cracking your fingers in preparation to type the counter-arguements from the normal queue sheet of highsec hate.  Save it for now.

The manifesto you're reading is talking big picture view; 100,000 foot view.  The point I'm driving at is simply this: in order for EVE to grow and thrive, it needs to support multple playstyles and multiple demeanors.  EVE is a game about manipulation, risk, and loss, and I'm not advocating that changes, but the mentality that null-sov-omghotdrops is the only "acceptable" endgame does need a tune up.

Five (three sir!) ... Three.  Small Ships are underutilized for PVE.  More (much more) on this later.  But here's a preview:  We've live in an era where endgame PVE combat means basically one thing: blingy battleships piloted by risk adverse farmers.  CCP has done an excellent job of remapping many of the small ships into roles for PVP.  In line with #1 above, I think that small ship PVE could be part of the answer, if systems were put in place to make it viable.

#4 - Sometimes, we need a different measure of progress than isk/hr.  And I don't mean adding things that convert to isk (like LP/hr or m3 ore/minute).  That's just isk in a different format.  In PVP, we have killmail and killboards and that's a good way to measure things and keep a score.  Character skillpoints has always been a measure (if over-emphasized) of character progression.  The recently overhauled Ship Mastery is a fun way to generate some bragging rights, maybe.  But here's the point: nothing motivates nerds more than "leveling up."  As I continue to post, one theme you'll see is an attempt to allow progress to be captured.

#5 - Doing something unexpected outside of the "approved" way to play the game through skill or risk taking is fun.  We live in an age where a how-to guide or video is just a few clicks away.  We lean on fits generated in offline tools, and it's tempting not to stray from the "accepted" mode of play else we won't be playing our spaceships "right."

I find this boring.

A big part of midgame content should be the refinement stage; the time in your EVE career where you have the basic skills and understanding of mechanics and begin to mix and match them to tackle the challenges on your screen.  I feel like many players are compelled (through well intentioned corpmates or Dr. Google) to skip this phase of development and use community-approved methods to progress (and killing much of the mystery and leveling up fun in the process).

In endgame, playing only the "accepted" way is a deathtrap leading to an unsub.  We have a rich universe with 10+ years of development time, but we sit in our stations and spin since there is "nothing to do."

So, some of what you'll see me talking about will be an attempt to break out of the checklist ship-fit mentality, trying some nonsensical things in game, and hopefully challenging some of your assumptions.

Finally #6 - KISS - Keep it Simple, Stupid.  It seems like CCP likes to bury content under layers and layers of crazy.  Sometimes the complexity is welcome - puzzling out an effective way to complete the content is a big part of the game - but sometimes it's just a barrier to entry, and later a tax on the fun.

So, the ideas you'll see me outline will generally lean towards a minimal implementation and leverage existing UI elements, accessible within a few minutes of logging in.  Could the implementations be more involved?  Sure.  But my intent is to focus on fundamentals; I'll leave the crazy to CCP.

So there. There's my manifesto.  My mustache is mostly intact (not too much twisting).  




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