Saturday, August 8, 2015

Blog Banter #65: Iteration

I saw the Blog Banter recently about Attributes but didn't have time to respond.  But when I'm at the pool burning swim laps, I have a lot of time with my head face down in the water to think.  And one of the thoughts that came through my noggin was half-realized response to the Attributes post.

Attributes and Skills
Does Eve need attributes? It's been discussed a lot recently. Unlike other MMO's your characters attributes don't make a difference in day-to-day gameplay. They simply set how fast you train a skill. Is it time to remove attributes from the game or totally revamp their purpose? Do they add a level of complexity to the game that is not needed? If you really need to use a 3rd party application to get the most from it should it be in the game? Should they be repurposed with each attribute adding a modifier to your ship? Are attributes a relic from the past or are they an important part of Eve - You make your decision and deal with the consequences?

I'm way late to this Blog Banter party, but here goes, in three separate but related thoughts:

I.  I get the logic behind wanting to nuke the Attributes system.  They're not used as intended, and really aren't a meaningful differentiator between your character and mine.  People wave the flag of character customization, but it's not really that either, and kind of never has been.  Past a certain point, what determines if I'm a better pilot is a) my time invested in skillpoints and b) how good I am at the nuances of EVE and whether I can put together a decent fit or not.  Attributes go into the first bucket (a), but given the age of the game and the ability to buy characters on the bazaar the value of the Attribute system is diluted greatly.

I'm still against (in general) ripping them out.  It's a slippery slope.  The learning skills don't add much, nuke them.  Attributes don't matter, so rip them out.  With Attributes gone, the +3/+4 implants are just a tax on clones, so let's just toss those in the bin too.  Wait ... "Everyone" has max gunnery skills, so they don't matter either ... let's crap on those too.   Shield vs. Armor tanks really don't matter, (hitpoints are hitpoints after all...) so let's get rid of Shields entirely and just have Armor and Hull points from now on.

The game would be much simpler, yes?  Then why not do it?

I come from a 5+ year stint of WoW.  To me, Homogenization is a very dirty word.  Blizz spent years making it so the classes were "balanced" and evening the playing field so that new players could enjoy the same endgame that veteran players had access to.  Patch after expansion after patch trashed old systems and replaced with shiny and new that promised to be "better" but really didn't make the game any richer or deeper.

In the end, it was a boring, watered down mess.  Having a few antiquated warts in the combat system is fine. Stop making it "better" and work on new content instead of reinventing the old every patch.

Better is the Enemy of Good Enough.

II.  Originally Attributes mattered because you badly needed skills.  Now everyone has the skills they want and the skill queue is something they load up once a year.  Rather than nuking Attributes, I'd be in favor of making them meaningful again.  I'm sure I'll get shouted down on this, but perhaps it's time to add another layer of skills across the game.

Don't remove content just because people have conquered it. Removing old content nibbles at the soul of the game, bit by bit.  

II.  I worry about the iteration going on.

Here's an analogy:  When you live in an old house, some upkeep is expected.  But if that's all you do, you never get ahead of the curve and won't turn your old house into a charming piece of property.  (Trust me, all I've done this year is cut the damn grass and haven't done ANYTHING to improve the 10 acre spread).

I know there's big things on the horizon, but beating CCP up to iterate on old stuff, banging pots and pans about the "useless" attribute system maybe isn't the best use of their time.

We should be careful what we ask for.

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