Tag Archives: crazy ideas

Project UNDOCK

I have a little EVE project that I am thinking about.  A couple of the changes over the last 12 months have had a huge impact on my playstyle.  First was the introduction of mobile depots.  This allowed me to refit in space without having to redock.  A more recent change was increasing the number of lowsec to lowsec wormholes.  It wasn’t a huge increase, but it was definitely noticeable.  This allows reaching all areas of lowsec space without traveling through highsec.  If I were of low security status, this would be pretty cool.  As it is, I use them fairly often to traverse space.

As a result, I am wandering even more than previously.  I used to stay within 10-20 jumps of my re-stock location so that I could get more missiles.  Now I am wandering the universe with my backpack (alt flying a blockade runner).  So I am going to see just how long I can go without docking my main.  The backpack will need to dock occasionally to refill on missiles and to drop goods off in stations to be shipped to market for sale, but my main should have no reason to dock unless he loses his ship.

Skills like Supply Chain Management will allow my main to still do some manufacturing if needed and Marketing and Daytrading will allow for the selling of goods at market from up to 20 jumps away.

The one downside is that I may eventually get tired of my Tengu and want to fly something else.  And I am not sure exactly how I am going to continue to manage my PI.  Finally, one could argue that it is a pointless exercise – no one will know if I actually do it or not, and I will still have to dock with my alt occasionally.  Also – why should I handicap myself?  My only answer to that is that it keeps the game interesting.  Also, I think the more time you spend out in space (and not in a station) the more fun EVE is.  So this is a way to encourage that.

UNDOCK!

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Connecting New Players

As mentioned previously and elsewhere, new players that don’t connect with other players through a corporation or chat or trade or some other mechanism as likely to leave EVE.

What can CCP do to help connect these players?

For starters, they can help develop and support the major newbie friendly corporations already in existence.  Eve University, Red vs. Blue, and Brave Newbies come to mind, but I am sure that there are others.  I know this is kind of dangerous ground from a community relations standpoint, but I really think CCP should officially recognize a handful of corporations as “New Player Friendly”.  There should be a set of criteria to be met and CCP should spend some time regulating the list and following up on any complaints.  Once the list is in place, it should be mailed to players that complete the tutorials along with a “letter of recommendation” encouraging them to consider applying to one of those corporations.

They also need to have another look at the tutorials.  They are well done and necessary, but at the end, they leave a new player very directionless – especially on the all important social aspect of the game.  The only pushes that the tutorial leaves you with are missions (Sisters of Eve arc) or faction warfare.  Missions is pretty much the “leveling up the Raven” problem.  Faction Warfare is pretty messy for a new solo player to get into.

I think that the capstone mission in the tutorial (after all others have been completed) should be to take a version of the “EVE Personality Test” that is on the EVE website.  The web version  categorizes you based on how you answer a handful of questions.  For me, it was Explorer (no surprise there).  The other options are Loyalist, Freedom Fighter, Empire Builder, Fleet Commander, Bounty Hunter, Pirate, Planetary Industrialist, Manufacturer, Trader, Salvager, and Miner. This list doesn’t make much sense from a gameplay standpoint.  Nobody (except alts) does only Planetary Industry.  And Fleet Commander isn’t something that you can just jump into (and neither is Empire Builder).  But I like the idea.  So I propose a version of it that more closely matches the options from the “What to Do in EVE chart?”

Career choices in Eve Online

Career choices in Eve Online

Something where the final categories are roughly:

Mineralogist (Mining)

Trade Baron (Trading)

Smuggler (Hauling)

Engineer (Production)

Archeologist (Exploration)

Exterminator (Mission Runner)

Naval Officer (Faction Warfare)

Mercenary (Mercenary)

Pirate (Pirate)

Lone Wolf (Solo Player, no corp suggested)
Depending on what you choose (should be given the option of accepting the suggestion, or choosing a different one), you are given a set of items (above and beyond what was received in the tutorial) that will get you started on that path.  For example, a Trader might be given the option to buy ammunition below cost and then told the best place to sell it is the regional market hub.  He flips his ammo making $10M isk or so and then has a small amount of capital to do some more trading – as well as a basic idea of where the hubs are.  An explorer might be given a “tip” to scan in a certain out-of-the-way system and find some extra data sites.  A pirate might be given a couple of “security tags” that could be sold or used as needed.

Finally, based on final choice the best matching newbie friendly corporation from the list  could be suggested (along with basic advice for applying to a corporation and what API keys to give out).

I think the biggest hurdle for a new player looking to connect is to figure out how to do so without being taken advantage of.  The current way of doing things is fine for a sophisticated player that is willing to spend several weeks researching EVE before playing, but the average player is just going to follow the game’s lead and then leave when they get bored.  Therefore, I think the game needs to lead them down a connection path.  Even if they decline or choose something else, at least they have a safe option early on.  They can choose to take more risks later when the understand the game better and have met a few people that they can “trust”.  (Not that you can ever fully trust someone in EVE).

 

 

Tech 3 Modules, New Space, and a Hacking Suggestion

I was recently re-reading a favorite book entitled A Fire Upon the Deep by Vernor Vinge.  One of the concepts in the book is that the universe is divided into Zones of Thought.  In the middle (the Unthinking Depths), faster than light travel is impossible.  The farther out you travel into the Beyond, multiples of lightspeed are possible.  These zones have implications on the possibilities of automation.  In the High Beyond, automation approaches sentience.  In the Transcend, automation is super-sentinent or godlike.  One of the protections offered by the Zones is that much of super-sentient automation in the Transcend degrades or fails entirely in the lower Zones.  This fact drives much of the plot of the book.

Naturally, I was thinking about this in terms of EVE.

I think the New Space (accessed by player built stargates) should be a place where higher automation is possible and contains the components and blueprints for building Tech 3 modules.  These modules would have a significant improvement over Tech 2, but would have significantly higher processing requirements.  A new module called a “Tech 3 Processor” (low or mid slot) would be introduced.  A single Tech 3 Processor would support four Tech 3 modules.  So – in effect – you can trade a low/mid slot for 4 enhanced slots.  The downside is that Tech 3 modules would only function at their full capabilities in the New Space.  In current K-space or wormhole space, they would function about like a Meta 4 module (similar to how ASB’s and AAR’s are better when they have charges and worse when they do not).

From an exploration standpoint, hacking could also take on a more risky (and profitable) tone.  A new type of site could be introduced where you might be trying to hack a system that is smarter than you are.  Succeed, and one of your ship’s modules (random) is upgraded to Tech 3 (still only usable under the conditions described above). Fail, and the consequences might be severe (destruction of a module? loss of control of your ship?).

Lots of balance things to consider here, of course, but I really like the idea of new space where new things are possible.  It gives some great options to a broad spectrum of players without negating the activities in the rest of New Eden.  There should still be some goodies that should come back to New Eden, but I think the game will be better if many of the rewards of the New Space are only useful in the New Space.

A Treasure Hunt…

Some RL events this past weekend have gotten me thinking about setting up a treasure hunt event in EVE.  I have been thinking about one in Highsec targeted at newbies and a more difficult one spread across high/low/null targeted at more experienced players and/or groups of players.

For both, I would use a series of bookmarks in secure storage containers anchored in far off parts of space.  The passwords to the containers would be riddles/problems to solve.  Finding the containers would also require some combat scanning and/or use of the directional scanner and probably some of the new deployable structures.  There would be multiple paths leading up to the final container with a couple of consolation prizes along the way.

I have 2 problems I am working on.

For the newbie friendly one, I want to structure it so that only newbies have incentive to participate and keep griefing to a minimum.  The rewards for this one would be fairly modest and the rules kept uncomplicated.  Not sure how many would be interested, but due to level of effort on creating the paths, it would probably drop down to about 25 participants after the first stage.

For the advanced one, I want to encourage broader participation with multiple starting areas and multiple entry points – but I want everyone to be able to start at about the same time.  For this one, the reward would be more substantial, but the risk would be higher to.  Since multiple people would be on similiar paths, there is a higher probability of combat, traps, griefing, deception – all the things EVE is known for.  I don’t want to encourage that, but I can’t easily avoid it either.  That is ok – these will be experienced players that know the risks – if they choose to participate.  But the problem remains – what is the best way to start this event across multiple systems at the same time without allowing clever players any advantage in pre-scouting or setting up traps before it even starts.  Still thinking about this.

More to come…

 

Johnny, Spike, Timmy & EVE

Warning: very long and possibly rambling post ahead.

First of all, I highly recommend that you read this:

http://www.wizards.com/magic/magazine/article.aspx?x=mtgcom/daily/mr220b

It is where game designer Mark Rosewater talks extensively about the psychographic profiles of players specific to the game Magic: The Gathering.  It is interesting stuff although much of the terminology is specific to MTG.

I have edited down the profiles and applied them to EVE.  This is a heavily derivative work and I am quoting extensively from the above article.

Keep in mind that these are all PVP profiles.  But since EVE is a PVP game, I think they apply quite nicely.  Also, players don’t always fit cleanly into a single category.  Probably, most players have a dominant category but recognize traits from the other categories as well.

So, on to the profiles…

For Timmy, the entire reason to play is having a good time

Timmy wants to experience something. Timmy plays because she enjoys the feeling she gets when she plays. What that feeling is will vary from Timmy to Timmy, but what all Timmies have in common is that they enjoy the visceral experience of playing. As you will see, Johnny and Spike have a destination in mind when they play. Timmy is in it for the journey.

Timmy plays with ships and fittings and methods that make him happy; things that create cool moments; fleets that make him laugh; ships that allow him to hang with his friends; ships that cause him to have fun. Winning and losing isn’t even really the point (although winning is fun – Timmy gets that).

For Timmy, the entire reason to play is having a good time. If Timmy loses 7 out of 10 matches, but wins 3 decisively then it was worth it.  Some Timmies LIVE for overkill.  When they win, they like to win big.  Gate campers and Hot Droppers are usually Timmies.  They may waste a lot of time waiting, but it is with friends and they are having fun on comms.  Sometimes a roaming fleet catches them and wipes them out.  Sometimes they catch a hauler or some blinged out ships.  If it made for a good story, then it was fun and it was worth it.

Timmies are also the ones that emphasize fun social interactions in a positive way.  They are the players that organize events like theme roams, frigate-free-for-alls, and other player events.  Another category of Timmies are the ones that always want to try new things.  They are the ones that move from Manufacturing to Wormholes to Nullsec to Faction Warfare to…whatever.  Finally, some Timmies just live for the adrenaline rush of the game.  They like to fly by the seat of their pants and be unpredictable.  They will engage in any battle – just to see what happens.  They are the true pirates of EVE -they get great fights and great kills, but are usually broke.

Let me end this section on Timmy by stressing that of the three profiles, Timmy has probably gotten the worst rap. Timmy isn’t an idiot. Timmy just chooses his ships and fittings for his own purposes. It’s not the reason Johnny and Spike choose theirs, but then that’s the entire point of psychographic profiles – to explain how different players are motivated by different criteria. I hope after this article, a lot of readers will realize that they themselves are Timmies.

Johnny wants to express something

So why does Johnny play? Because Johnny wants to express something. To Johnny, this is an opportunity to show the world something about himself, be it how creative she is or how clever she is or how offbeat she is. As such, Johnny is very focused on the customizability of the game. Your ship and your style becomes an extension of yourself. When your style wins, you win. When your ship fitting gets complimented, you get complimented. It is this principle that drives Johnnies.

They are the EFT Warriors and Fleet Comp builders.  They are the strategists that pore over tournament fleet combinations and build winning combinations.

They are also the creators of the theme fleets that are weird, but wildly effective.  The idea for RvB and Brave Newbies and EVE University may fall into this grouping.

Johnnies also see the game as a form of self-expression. Some of the talented role-players and artists and bloggers are Johnnies.

Some Johnnies build their ships based on sheer stubbornness. To them, no ship or module is too bad to find a use for. They thrive on doing the undoable like building Battle Badgers and Combat Covops ships.

Before I wrap up with Johnny, I feel obliged to point out that Johnnies aren’t restricted to just the in-game expression.  The common bond to all the Johnnies is that they are on a mission to show the world something about themselves. What they’re showing varies tremendously, but at the core of each Johnny is a similar motivation: “Look at me world! Look at me!”

Spike gets his greatest joy from proving something by winning

So why does Spike play? Spike plays to prove something, primarily to prove how good he is. You see, Spike sees the game as a mental challenge by which she can define and demonstrate her abilities. Spike gets her greatest joy from winning because her motivation is using the game to show what she is capable of. Anything less than success is a failure because that is the yardstick he is judging himself against.  If Spike wins 9 out of 10 times, but he knows he could have / should have won the 10th time then he is disappointed.  She wants to win.

Most Spikes are min/maxers.  They try to squeeze every advantage whether in pvp or trading or space domination.  They want to be the best.  Some Spikes focus on the metagame.  They win by understanding their opponents’ (or the game’s) weaknesses.  They win sovereignty battles before they start and make fortunes on patch speculation.

Some Spikes focus all their energies on perfecting their own gameplay.  They are the consummate pvp pilots who are always perfecting their craft.  They make videos, share tips, and dominate tournament play.  In industry they make trillions.

Finally, there are some Spikes that absolutely drive CCP crazy.  They pride themselves on their ability to find and exploit broken game mechanics.  They know how to make use of game mechanics for personal benefit in ways that CCP never dreamed of.

The most important thing to understand about Spikes is this: To them the game is a means to test themselves. As such, their enjoyment comes from marking their own progress. While that usually means winning (however defined), there are Spikes who measure their success in other ways. For example, some Spikes measure themselves not against winning or losing but by how perfect their play was.

The last thing I want to stress is that Spikes are neither limited to organized play nor are they necessarily good. There are Spikes who play casually. There are Spikes who are downright horrible. Being a Spike is measured against why you play not where or how well you play. (And the inverse is true for Timmy.)

Feel free to disagree, but so far, I would say that Rubicon was a Timmy/Johnny expansion.  It is an expansion that encourages alternative game play and makes proving-by-winning a bit more complex.  In fact, with the space exploration bit, it feels like perhaps CCP is embarking on a long Timmy/Johnny arc.  I think maybe Jester was alluding to this when he made this post a while back.  We shall see.